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WATERLOO, Iowa --- A father whose son was shot and killed Thursday called on fellow parents to learn from the tragedy.
Willie Johnson spoke during a vigil Friday night for 17-year-old Martavious Johnson.
"We want to turn that negative energy to positive energy," he said. "Use this as a stepping stone to teach your children to do better and know better."
He also asked residents to remain calm and not rush to judgment.
"We want to let justice take its course, and we just want everybody to be at peace," he said. "That's all we want."
An uncle, Terry Mabry of Waterloo, estimated 150 to 200 people had gathered for the curbside demonstration. Several propped candles and stuffed animals against a tree at the shooting site in the 500 block of Sumner Street.
"If you got a gun, get rid of it because it does no good," Mabry said.
Martavious was best friends with Mabry's son, Deshawn Price, 16, and was like a brother to Mabry's daughter, A-Marie Mabry, 8. He lived for a while with Mabry and his wife.
"We played outside on the lawn mower," A-Marie recalled. "We used to go to Casey's (General Store). They used to buy me stuff."
A-Marie sought counseling at school Friday "because she needed to talk to someone about it," Mabry said.
"He was one of the family," Mabry said. "Whatever we did, he did. Wherever we went, he went. He was like a son to me.
"Every kid has their faults, but he was really a good kid."
Kids need to stick together and quit thinking about what side of town they are from, Mabry added. He pleaded for an end to what he referred to as exaggerated rumors circulating on social networking websites like Facebook.
"This right here is just one community," he said. "It's just a sad day in Waterloo. It was a senseless murder."
As the crowd began to disperse, Martavious' great uncle, Paul Kraft, was displeased with conversations he overheard.
"Hold on, hold on," he yelled. "Did we just not talk about love? We're talking about love, they're talking about fighting right now. We need to come together."
Davaris Morehead said he has known Martavious his entire life.
"He was everything that you want your kid to be," he said.
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