'A young life has been snuffed out': Wolverhampton vigil held in memory of stabbed teen
“His death has brought us altogether as a community” – the words of one of the church leaders in Bilston who turned out for a candle-lit tribute to tragic teenager Shawn Seesahai.
More than 100 people including ward councillors, community and faith representatives or just residents of Stow Heath and the Stowlawn estate gathered on Sunday evening at Stowlawn Playing Fields, Green Park Avenue, where the 19-year-old was stabbed to death on Monday.
They laid flowers and lit candles in a show of defiance by the community,
Shawn, who was originally from Anguilla, had only been in the country since April and was living on his own, with his parents still in the Caribbean. Many of the people who laid flowers or lit candles didn't know him but talked of their shock at the 'senseless' killing and their determination to stop a repeat.
Balvant Patel, president of the Bilston Hindu Association, and Reverend Simon Skidmore, from the three Anglican parishes that make up the town, led the tributes to Shawn and said they were determined his legacy would live on. The Mount Pleasant Gurdwara in Bilston was also represented.
Mr Patel led the community in a prayer and said: "This was a tragic event that has befallen our community and a young life has been snuffed out senselessly but we hope God will look after him and give strength to his family who are many miles away at the moment.
"We have to hope it will act as a catalyst to make sure this doesn't happen again and only by building bridges within the community, something that we have seen here and reaching out to young people will this happen.
"I hope it doesn't mean this area will get a bad reputation as there is plenty of good people and initiatives going on here as can be seen by the amount of people who are here and are paying their respects."
Reverend Skidmore said prayers had been said at all churches and services in the Bilston area on Sunday morning and everybody had been upset by the events of Monday and Shawn's death.
He said: "Shawn was known for showing kindness to others including his friends and in the short time he had been here had made an impact on many people in the area.
"His life has been tragically cut short, when he had everything to live for.
"He loved his family and they will be feeling the pain and suffering of his death most of all.
"His death has been a great shock to the community in Stow Heath, Stowlawn, and beyond and will be felt in the days and weeks to come but it has brought us together here."
Alderman Phil Page who lives in the area said more was needed for young people to do.
He said: "Unfortunately this is a far from isolated incident nationwide but we can only look at our own immediate area and it is obvious people need to come together to stop it happening again. Tonight has been a good start because it has brought people out on a cold evening to pay their respects to a member of the community, who many didn't know."
Organiser of the fundraiser, Katie Nicholls from Bilston, said people were determined Shawn's death would not be in vain and a WhatsApp group of over 50 parents had already been established to provide minders or supervisors for their children.
She said: "It means messages can be exchanged when someone's youngster needs supervising or looking after and will hopefully mean that they are not left to roam around the area and potentially getting in danger or problems.
"It is one way people from the area can do something practical."
A gofundme page has been set up to help raise money to return his body to family in Anguilla.
Set up by his uncle, Ryan Shiwcharan, the page says: "We are now faced with the urgent need to bring Shawn back home to Anguilla, where his family can say their final goodbyes and find some semblance of peace. The unimaginable grief is compounded by the financial strain of arranging for his body to be transported."
As of Sunday evening it had raised almost $2,500. It can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/shawn-seesahai.
Two 12-year-olds who cannot be named for legal reasons will appear before Wolverhampton Crown Court tomorrow morning jointly charged with murder and the possession of a bladed article, specifically a machete.