Hundreds of mourners filed through a Homestead funeral home on Sunday evening during visitation for Antwon Rose, the Woodland Hills honors student shot and killed by police last week.
Some wore homemade T-shirts demanding “Justice for Antwon,” while others emblazoned the back with, “Three shots to the back, how you justify that?” Many began to weep before they even reached the steps of Tunie Funeral Home.
Seeing a lot of these homemade shirts this evening outside the Homestead funeral home where hundreds are cycling through to pay their respects. This photo shows Taivion Boynes, 19, a friend of Antwon’s. “Three shots to the back, how you justify that?” pic.twitter.com/9h6wEneeFW
— Megan Guza (@meganguzaTrib) June 24, 2018
The parking lot of the 11th Avenue funeral home remained filled with people throughout the duration of the viewing, which lasted officially from 4 to 8 p.m., though mourners began pouring in early and stayed later.
“His smile could light up the whole room,” said Tammy Overly, Rose’s manager at the Forest Hills Domino’s pizzeria where he worked.
Overly said she’s been to every protest since the Tuesday night shooting near the intersection of Grandview Avenue and Howard Street.
“It’s been overwhelming, but it’s for Antwon,” she said. “We’ll do what we can for Antwon.”
Protesters have taken to the streets through Pittsburgh and its suburbs each night since the shooting, shutting down parts of East Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the Parkway East on Thursday night, the North Shore on Friday and Pittsburgh’s South Side late Saturday.
“He was a hardworking, good person,” said Matt Geyer, who also worked with Rose at Domino’s. “He treated everybody with respect.”
Family members declined to speak to reporters, but the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, said they will continue to press for criminal charges to be filed against the officer who shot Rose, Michael Rosfeld.
He said the family hopes the office of District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. will conduct a fair investigation, but they also believe that the close relationship between his officer and law enforcement will create bias.
Merritt said the family understands that; Rose’s grandfather works as a police officer, and his mother has worked with law enforcement as well.
“It’s not a knock against the district attorney’s office,” Merritt said.
Addressing rumors that Allegheny County Police, who are investigating the shooting, have video footage showing Rose involved in an earlier North Braddock shooting that ultimately led to the fatal traffic stop, Merritt said that should have no bearing on the investigation even if it is true.
Allegheny County Police officials have denied that video evidence shows Rose engaged in the shooting.
“It doesn’t change what happened with Michael Rosfeld,” Merritt said. “(Rose)was simply a kid running scared.”
Geyer echoed that sentiment, saying that the question of, “Why did he run?” should be the last one that people are asking.
“It’s like the poem he wrote two years ago — he was confused and afraid,” Geyer said.
Geyer referred to a widely shared poem that Rose wrote in an honors English class: “I hear that there’s only two ways out / I see mothers bury their sons / I want my mom to never feel that pain / I am confused and afraid.”
Geyer said he wants to see Rosfeld charged and prosecuted.
“A human being took another human being’s life,” he said.
Merritt said that Rosfeld has “a lot to answer for,” and that Rose’s actions before he was killed should have little bearing on the question of whether Rosfeld’s actions are justified.
“I understand the temptation to blame the victim,” he said. “But he’s gone. We can’t convict him. We can’t put him on trial.”
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.