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One year later: Struthers mayor, Rowan Sweeney’s father reflect on mass shooting

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STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) — The death of 4-year-old Rowan Sweeney one year ago left many in the Valley heartbroken over a senseless loss of life.

During the tragic time, the Struthers community banded together in support of Rowan’s family.

Mayor Catherine Cercone Miller said when things like this happen, they rally.

“The way the community rallied together afterwards is what makes me so proud to be from Struthers. With something that was such a tragedy and so heart wrenching, to see the helpers and look for all the people that came together to help the family, to help the city, to help everybody that was grieving is really a testament to who we are,” Miller said.

Neighbors still want answers in the case. They still have “Justice for Rowan” signs in front of their homes and red ribbons in spots all over the city.

Rowan’s dad, David Sweeney, talked about what that support has meant to him over the last year.

“Without the support, it would make it even more harder to get through this support for not only me but my family knowing that everyone’s there for us. They’re always there for Rowan. Everyone always comes out and supports his events, everyone wants to see this park built for him. There’s no feelings you can put into that, it’s amazing,” he said.

Miller talked about getting the phone call about the shooting.

“It was the middle of the night and I listed to it. It said, ‘Mass shooting, mass shooting.’ I remember sitting up in bed and waking my husband up and said, ‘Listen to this, did I hear this right? Did they just say mass shooting?’ I got a little nervous, real scared, hoping it was a mistake, hoping something went wrong. [I] came straight to the station, was on the phone with Chief Roddey for a long time and everything happened so quickly. The way our guys, our fire department, our medical team, our ambulance service, our police department — all the surrounding agencies — the way everybody came together that night is like something I have never seen before,” Miller said.

There will be a candlelight vigil on Tuesday at Struthers’ football practice field at 8 p.m. to remember Rowan.

David said he hopes to see as many people as possible there and hopes events like this one can help keep Rowan’s name and memory alive.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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