‘Long Live Gavin’: Family, friends host vigil for Niles teen killed in shooting

Published 11:32 am Friday, May 20, 2022

NILES — “Long Live Gavin”.

Dozens of community members – several wearing “LLG” t-shirts – gathered near the entrance of Arbor Trails Apartments Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil in honor of Gavin Blankenship, a 14-year-old Niles teen who was killed in a May 12 shooting.

A memorial featuring flowers, hats, stuffed animals and beverages was placed near the apartment complex entrance. As night fell, candles were distributed to those in attendance. After lighting the candles, friends and family lit the candles surrounding the memorial, bathing it in warm light.

Friends, family, teachers and classmates have been impacted by Gavin’s passing. Niles Community Schools Superintendent Dan Applegate addressed the passing of Blankenship – a NCS student – during Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

“We want to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and everyone who has been impacted by this tragedy,” he said. “Our administrators have reached out to the family and made contact.”

Applegate thanked the district’s crisis team for its swift response in addressing the needs of the students and staff.”

“We found this out very early that morning and our crisis team of counselors, teachers, therapists, behavioral specialists got together very quickly and responded,” he said. “They went to the schools, found out what their needs were, met with teachers and students to try to help them through this by following their training. Kudos to them for being on standby and really dropping all of those things they were doing to meet the needs of our students and staff. I want to praise them for being there for us.”

Donations in Gavin Blankenship’s name can be made to a GoFundMe created by his family or to Moms Demand Action at momsdemandaction.org. 

The shooting remains under investigation by the Niles Police Department. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Niles Detective Bureau at (269) 683-0404, or make an anonymous tip through tipsoft.com, or by calling Crime Stoppers.