WASHINGTON — Youth football teams joined the community in marching for Davon McNeal Saturday, the 11-year-old who was shot to death on the Fourth of July.
Earlier this week, police arrested two men in connection with his death but are still searching for two other suspects.
Demonstrators have rallied seeking justice for McNeal every day since the shooting happened. Saturday, players from McNeal's football team, the Metro Bengals, as well as teams from surrounding areas, joined the march that began at the Birchleaf Park field in Maryland where he played.
“It was just something that really touched my heart as a father, as a husband, as a coach. I have three boys myself," Tariq Sneed, the head coach of the Laurel Wildcats said. "It could have been any of our young kings out here. It could have been a player. It could have been one of my sons.”
The group walked more than six miles from the field to the Frederick Douglass Apartments, where McNeal was shot to death as his grandfather said he was running to retrieve a phone charger while at a violence interrupter cookout.
McNeal's longtime coach, Kevin McGill said his player had a passion for the game, and his team was his second family.
They honored his jersey number, "3," during the march with banners, balloons and sidewalk chalk.
"Day Day, little ugly, that’s what I called him," Coach McGill said. "That’s my son. That was my son. That was my son. So, like I said, I got 20 other boys I got to take care of to get through this too. So with the strength and the prayers of all ya’ll. That’s the only way we’re going to get through this.”
March organizer Rayvon Wills said the young player scored 28 touchdowns on the Birchleaf field alone last season.
"That lets you know how special the kid was," Wills said. "It’s unfortunate that a kid with a future that bright had his life cut short for foolishness and senseless killing.”
Wills said he felt compelled to organize the march because he feels a deep connection with McNeal — even though he never got the chance to meet him.
“My mom’s name is Crystal. His mom’s name is Crystal as well," Wills said. "Davon, Rayvon. He’s 11-years old. I had the same kind of experience when I was 11."
He said the main goal of the demonstration is to make sure they feel safe in their homes.
Coach Sneed brought his entire family with him to the march. All three of his sons play in the Laurel Wildcats football league. The oldest said after hearing what happened to McNeal, they felt inspired to join their father.
“Gun violence is not accepted and we don’t need weapons to protect ourselves from anybody," Malakhi Sneed said.
Sneed's father said he couldn't stay silent any longer — and hopes no one else does.
“We need more opportunities in our Black neighborhoods, for us to get away from the violence," he said. "It’s going down in our communities, in our backyards, and we can no longer just sit and allow this to happen when they’re taking our kids away.”