NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Family and friends braved the cold to celebrate the life of a teenager shot and killed outside his home last week.
Edgar "E.J." Utley was remembered for his sense of humor, kind heart, and for being a friend to many.
A large crowd gathered at Hartman Community Park for a candlelight vigil. They prayed, shared memories and released balloons in E.J.'s honor.
For many, it was a chance to grieve and begin the healing process.
"That was my blood, my baby cousin," said Janae Bowers, E.J.'s cousin. "I loved him so much. He was always there for everybody."
"His friends should be able to celebrate him and what a good person he was," said Michala McCall, E.J.'s cousin.
Utley played football and basketball at Hillsboro High School and friends said he had a bright future ahead of him.
Metro Police say Utley was shot and killed Feb. 4 at his home on Pointer Court in South Nashville during a robbery attempt. 16-year-old Wilton Alexander and 15-year-old Trameisha Farris are now in custody in connection to the murder.
Several local and state leaders also attended to pay their respects including Deputy Mayor Brenda Haywood, Juvenile Court Judge Lionel Matthews, and State Representative Brenda Gilmore. They also sent a strong message to other teens to stay safe and make smart decisions.
"We want them to be successful and not to be involved in anything negative and especially not violence," said Sen. Brenda Gilmore.
A Go Fund Me account has been established to help E.J.'s family with funeral expenses. Donations can be made here.