Memorial ride against police advisement planned in Bridgeport Saturday for teen killed in scooter crash
There is controversy in Bridgeport as the family of a teen killed in a scooter crash clashes with police over plans for a memorial ride featuring the same type of illegal vehicle he was killed on.
On the East Side of Bridgeport Thursday, people revved up their scooters in anticipation of an event taking place Saturday afternoon.
Shirts bear the image of 18-year-old AJ DeJesus, whose memory the ride will be dedicated to. Hundreds of people are expected to show up Saturday, riding either scooters, dirt bikes or ATVs. But as they take to the streets of Bridgeport, their memorial is already on a controversial course.
"The loss of AJ is tragic,” said City Council Member Maria Pereira. "But what if there's another fatality?"
Pereira says as a mother, she's very sensitive to what DeJesus' family must be going through.
Police say the teen was critically injured one week ago and later died after the scooter he and another teen were riding was struck by a pickup truck in a hit-and-run.
"We can't have a massive ride through the city of these illegal vehicles,” Pereira said. "We have to have the celebration of someone's life within the limits of the law."
But his family is adamant about going ahead with the ride.
"Scooters, ATVs, Slingshots, if it has two wheels, even if it has pedals," said Raymond Soler. "'Cause my little brother loved bikes, ever since he was a baby."
City officials say they will not provide a police escort because such a ride would be "illegal and dangerous."
"This is like having someone murdered -- in a mass murder -- with the use of assault weapons, then the family holding a vigil with all these people holding assault weapons," said Pereira.
"This hit home for us, so we know firsthand how safe we need to be," said Soler. "For us to have a ride out in memory of my little brother, it will mean the world to us, and it will mean even more to him knowing that so many people care about him."
The family promises to provide a ride that's as safe as it is sentimental.
"He's opening the gates of heaven, riding his bike, not walking," said Soler.
Police say they extend their deepest condolences to the family and are simply putting safety first.