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Hundreds gather to celebrate life of Antwon Rose II

The funeral service was mostly restricted to friends and family.
by Morgan Radford and Chandelis R. Duster /

SWISSVALE, Pa. — Hundreds gathered in a school auditorium Monday to pay respects to Antwon Rose, the unarmed 17-year-old high school student who was killed by a police officer last week.

Rose, a rising senior and honor student, was shot three times after fleeing a vehicle during a traffic stop and running away from officers.

The funeral service was mostly restricted to friends and family. The ceremony was held at Woodland Hills Intermediate School, where Rose attended middle school. No protests were scheduled Monday out of respect for his family.

Mary Brookins, a substitute teacher at the school, said she is hurt and confused by Rose’s death and said the teen was always respectful to her.

“I have sons and it could have been my son," Brookins told NBC News. "I can always remember that smile he had."

“No one has a harsh thing to say about him because there is nothing harsh to say,” added Lillian McClain, who grew up with Rose's family.

On Sunday, hundreds passed through Tunie Funeral Home during Rose's wake — some wearing shirts that read, "3 shots to the back, how do you justify that?" Since Rose's death, protests have become commonplace in the East Pittsburgh area where the fatal shooting occurred.

The healing process can only begin when Antwon, his family, and the community get justice."

Michael Rosfeld, 30, the officer who fired the fatal shots, has been placed on administrative lead pending an investigation into the incident. Rosfeld had been on the job three weeks and was sworn into the East Pittsburgh Police Department 90 minutes prior to the shooting.

During five nights of protests, community activists and members have called for stronger police accountability and for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala to bring forth criminal charges against Rosfeld.

Image: People carry flowers as they leave Antwon Rose Jr.'s funeral
People carry flowers as they leave Antwon Rose Jr.'s funeral on June 25, 2018, in Swissvale, Pennsylvania.Keith Srakocic / AP

The Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition, which works to transform's the city's black communities, called for criminal charges "immediately."

"The healing process can only begin when Antwon, his family, and the community get justice," the group said in a statement.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's official Twitter account did not specify when the office would address the status of their investigation.

NBC News reached out to Zappala for additional comment but has not received a response. Rosfield's attorney Pat Thomassey said he and his client decline to comment.

Michelle Kenney, Rose’s mother, told ABC News she believes the officer “murdered my son in cold blood.”

“If he has a son, I pray his heart never has to hurt the way mine does," Kenney said. “But I think he should pay for taking my son's life. I really do.”

East Pittsburgh Police initially pulled over the vehicle Rose was in because they say it matched the description of a car involved in a drive-by shooting 13 minutes earlier.

According to Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough, the driver of the vehicle was ordered out of the car by officers. That's when Rose and another male “bolted from the vehicle on foot.”

Image: A person attending the funeral for Antwon Rose Jr. embraces a police officer
A person attending the funeral for Antwon Rose Jr. embraces a police officer near the hearse on June 25, 2018, in Swissvale, Pennsylvania.Keith Srakocic / AP

In a cellphone video posted on social media by witness Shauny Mary, Rose and another man are seen getting out of the passenger side of a silver Chevy Cruze and running before multiple shots are fired.

According to McDonough, two semi-automatic handguns were found on the floor of the vehicle and they found Rose was unarmed and an empty gun clip was found in his pocket.

Police officials have urged community members to be patient so his office can conduct a "fair and objective investigation."

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