Austin community pastors, political leaders, activists, police and residents held a rally and memorial last Wednesday for Clay Ether, the 11-year-old who was stabbed to death Feb. 15 in his West Side home.

People crowded the corner of Washington and LeClaire near the home of Ether. Cmdr. Al Wysinger and his 15th District police officers, and Ald. Ed Smith (28th Ward), were among the attendees, along with Chicago media and Austin Church pastors and members of CeaseFire and the South Austin Coalition. Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church led a prayer (right) calling for an end to the violence in the community.

“This is a kid who was just getting started,” said Smith. “What happened to him is a tragedy for all of us.”

Wysinger said police are currently investigating the case, but that an underage suspect was in custody on an unrelated drug charge. The unknown suspect is under the age of 16, he said, and possibly knew the victim and his family.

Ether was stabbed to death in the early morning hours on Wednesday Feb. 15. Early news accounts reported that he was killed in an upstairs neighbor’s apartment after sneaking out of his apartment after his mother Kallie fell asleep. Police now suspect that Ether was killed inside his apartment.

The suspect is currently being held at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, 1100 S. Hamilton.

Jacqueline Robinson, principal of Robert Emmet Academy, 5500 W. Madison, where the sixth grader was in school, attended the rally with two of Ether’s classmates.

“It’s been a week of grief,” said Robinson. “We’re grieving with the family. Our children are somewhat confused. They don’t understand how anyone can be so monstrous to take the life of a child for no apparent reason.

“Clay will be sorely missed.”

?”Terry Dean