Wednesday , June 19 2024

Prayer Vigil for Boy Killed by Hit and Run Driver

A community comes together in prayer for a nine year old boy who was killed by a hit and run driver.

Elijah Villarreal was playing football with friends on his street when he was struck by a van, that drove off after the accident.

Two teenagers turned themselves in to police, but were later released.

Close to 75 people came out to pray for Eli and for the investigators who are working on this case.

They held hands and joined in prayer. A community, a family who lost a loving little boy.

“It’s really unbelievable, just unbelievable. It’s like a bad dream, but we just want to make sure no one forgets him,” said Florence Tuttle, a first cousin to Eli’s mother.

Tuttle spoke on behalf of Eli’s family. His mother, unable to. But she wore a t-shirt bearing Eli’s smiling face, to remind people of her loss.

Eli was killed three weeks ago. Two teenagers turned themselves in for the hit and run. But they were released. And no charges have been filed.

His family, friends and the community say that Eli liked to pray with his family. So they prayed for the investigators to get the information they need to complete the case.

“That’s what we keep reminding ourselves. What would Eli want us to do. He wouldn’t want us to be angry. He didn’t like yelling. He’d want us to do the right thing and that’s what he stood for,” Tuttle said.

Dinuba’s police chief and other officers were at the vigil in front of the police station.

“it’s great to see the support for Eli. They want justice and we want justice as well,” said Chief Devon Popovich. He says his officers are waiting to get reports back on evidence they’ve collected.

“There are some things we need to wrap up with the investigation and we hope to give it to the district attorney’s office soon,” Popovich said.

Purple was Eli’s favorite color. His family hopes that purple ribbons in front of the police station and around town will serve as a reminder of Eli and the justice that still waits.

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