ST. PETERSBURG — Tyler Lord, 17, was the most recent of six young men killed by gun violence in six weeks, but his grieving mother said Saturday evening that he should be remembered as more than a statistic.
Laretha Dortch-Lord and about 40 others gathered for a candlelight vigil Saturday, and St. Petersburg police said they are seeking a person of interest who was in the alley where Tyler was killed Thursday.
"He was more than just a number," Dortch-Lord said at the vigil outside the Thomas "Jet" Jackson Recreation Center. "He's just not another someone that was shot dead in the St. Pete area. It's not just another one life gone, it's another life gone, snuffed out, and hundreds, at the very least, of lives that are affected."
Detectives say they believe Drew Allen Reed, 27, was in the alley in the 1800 block of 16th Street S with a gun at the time Lord was killed around 1 a.m.
Dortch-Lord said she didn't know Reed, but she begged the community to share any information with police — even if they're uneasy about speaking with investigators.
"It should always be kept in mind it could have been your brother, it could have been your son," she said. "It could have be your nephew or grandchild or friend, and then just take a moment and think, would you want somebody to help you find out what happened?"
Reed's last known address is 3740 53rd Ave. N, police said.
He is 5 feet 8, 175 pounds, and has a thin beard. He has a sleeve tattoo on his right arm and a cross on his upper left arm. Detectives are also looking for his car, a 2010 Mazda 3S hatchback with the tag number DDMV68.
RELATED: Six weeks. Six shootings. Six people dead. As a community reels, St. Petersburg police find no pattern in string of fatal shootingsAssistant police Chief Jim Previtera said Thursday that officers in the area heard shots, then received a call from someone who'd walked into the alley and seen Lord on the ground. When police arrived, they performed CPR but Lord died shortly after. He was just two blocks away from his home.
Previtera said the crime scene offered little evidence of what happened and investigators didn't know why Lord was in the alley, who shot him or the motive.
The gathering for Lord took place a block away from where 16-year-old Lennie Acostas was killed Nov. 10 in a targeted shooting at his home on nearby Langdon Avenue. The next day, nearly 200 gathered for a candlelight vigil in front of the house.
Acostas was one of the first two in the string of six deaths, which police have said don't seem to be connected. Some of the shooters have been caught; police are still searching for the others.
The violence prompted Mayor Rick Kriseman and about 150 community members to march down Central Avenue, chanting, "No more guns!"
Dortch-Lord remembered her son fondly. He was her "baby boy," she said, even though he stood at least 6 feet 3. He was one of seven siblings and was soon to be an uncle.
"He had the heart of the angel and a smile that lit up any room," she said.
At the vigil Saturday night, some held candles as the group huddled together against a chilly wind outside the recreation center.
They recited the 23rd Psalm, observed a moment of silence in Tyler's honor and then blew out the candles.
"We'll all miss him,'' Dortch-Lord said.
Times staff writer Kathryn Varn and photojournalist Zack Wittman contributed to this report.