Mother of murder victim has July 4 message of safety

Penika Edwards' son was murdered last July 4.
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As crews put the finishing touches on hundreds of rounds of fireworks on top of the Regions Tower downtown, one mother is preparing to mark a somber anniversary.

Penika Edwards sighs deeply as she recalls her son. Last July 4th, after the fireworks ended, not far from Circle Centre Mall, 16 year-old Monquize Edwards was shot to to death.

"I just don't want it to happen to anyone else," said Edwards.

So this mother is urging teens and their parents to take a moment and think.

"If they're not going down there to enjoy the fireworks, they don't need to be down there starting trouble. Stay at home if that's where your mindset is at. No one else needs to lose their life on Independence Day," said Edwards.

Police will be out in force downtown. But officials say everyone has a duty - if they see something out of the ordinary, to say something.

"We don't want a repeat performance, we want young people to understand, come down, have a great time. Much like we do at Summer Celebration or the Indianapolis 500 or any other event, we want you to come in peace and leave the way you came," said IMPD Chief Rick Hite.

Because last year, not only was a teen killed, a young father was taken away from his 6-month-old son.

"I can be sad and he just lights my world up. Yes he does," said Edwards.

Police say there's evidence that Monquize and his alleged 18-year-old killer had ties to gangs.

"They need to stop. It's hurting mothers. It's hurting families. It's breaking up families. They need to stop it. There's positive things out there for them to do and they need to find 'em," Edwards said.

A mother's hope that this July 4th, the only fireworks downtown will be the ones lighting up the night's sky.

The fireworks get underway around 9:45 p.m. Friday downtown. Police also say to leave your consumer fireworks at home, they pose too much of a danger to the crowds.