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Family plans balloon release for 14-year-old Chicago boy shot and killed in Northwest Indiana

Family mourns 14-year-old boy murdered in Whiting, Indiana
Family mourns 14-year-old boy murdered in Whiting, Indiana 02:02

WHITING, Ind. (CBS) -- It has been nearly one month since a teen from Chicago was murdered while visiting family in Whiting, Indiana.

Damien Abenante-Villa's loved ones have planned a balloon release for 5 p.m. Saturday, with the goal of keeping the crime in the spotlight to solve the murder.

Damien, 14, was a freshman at De La Salle Institute in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. On Thursday, fellow students honored his memory – asking for an end to gun violence.  

His aunt, Nicole Abenante, said her nephew loved sports.

"He definitely probably could have been a sports announcer one day in his life, because he was amazing with that stuff," she said. "He had those stats — like, he had them."

The 14-year-old was visiting Whiting, Indiana to celebrate his cousin's 15th birthday. Nicole said he was really happy to head to Whiting to spend time with his aunt, uncle, and cousins.

"He got in the car, just so excited," said Abenante. "He filled us in on everything that was going on because we hadn't seen him in a little bit."

Abenante said on Saturday, March 23, some of her children asked if they could go to the park after enjoying the birthday dinner. They started walking down the 1600 block of LaPorte Avenue, when at 5:20 p.m., someone fired a gun at the group — hitting Damien.

Nicole Abenante

About a minute later, Abenante's oldest son would call her — telling her the unimaginable.

"My husband answered my phone and he said, 'Dad, Damien's been shot!' And my husband's first response was, 'Where are you?'" Like, they just walked out my door," said Abenante. "He said: 'Damien, it's not time to play. Don't play with me right now,' and he picked up his arm, and it just fell back."

Abenante said the hardest part was telling Damien's mother that her son had been shot. He would be pronounced dead at a hospital.

"Words can't explain it. It's, you know, always been, you know, him and her, him and her — like always," she said. "That was, of course, any mother knows the bond that they have with their child."

The vigil and balloon release will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 20, in the 1600 block of LaPorte Avenue in Whiting.  

The motive for the shooting was still not known as of Friday.

Anyone with information on the murder is asked to call Whiting police Detective Capt. Brad Stelow, at 219-600-7223.

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