While thousands rallied to end gun violence Saturday, a St. Paul family was reminded of the pain gun violence can cause as they mourn their loved one.
Billy Ray Robles, 19, was shot and killed when the bus returned to the AMC Theaters parking lot in Inver Grove Heights after a night of celebration.
Witnesses said there were a lot of fights on the bus, before it escalated into gunfire.
Police used a K9 unit and a state patrol helicopter to search the area for the suspect, but he managed to get away, adding to the family’s pain.
“I wanted to light a candle, I want to make sure the soul goes to heaven,” said Amanda Johnson, Robles’ aunt. “I want to make sure he finds his way. I don’t want him to think we forgot about him.”
The grief is still raw for Robles’ family. They gathered near the spot where he was shot and killed early Saturday morning.
“You never think stuff like this is going to happen to somebody like you,” Johnson said. “Never did I think I would get the phone call from my sister saying what happened to him.”
Robles was among those who were on the bus.
A witness, who did not want to be identified, took video of the fight and shooting around 1:30 a.m. Saturday. She said trouble started early in their trip, with lots of arguments and fights.
“It’s someone’s birthday; they’re trying to have fun. Everyone’s just assuming we’re going to get on, have a good time, get off and go home, but that’s not how it turned out,” the witness said.
Police said someone opened fire, injuring a juvenile and killing Robles.
“I don’t want another family to feel the pain that we’re feeling, because my nephew’s not here no more,” Johnson said.
His family said Robles, who was an aspiring rapper and former high school football player, was their rock. Now they’re trying to figure out how to move on without him in their lives.
“It’s just gotta stop, these things with the guns, it’s out of control,” Johnson said. “And if we could do anything for what happened today, it’s gotta be to find a way to help the situation.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with expenses. Meanwhile, the BCA and Dakota County Sheriff’s Office are assisting with the investigation.
Anyone with information about the identity or whereabouts of the suspect is asked to call the Inver Grove Heights Police Department at 651-450-2525.