Friends gather to recall slain teen
Appeal Staff Writer
Just short of eight months ago, Karen Ryan’s life changed forever.
Just after 1 a.m. June 15, her son Zach Warren was accidentally shot and killed by a friend at a house on River Road.
Sunday afternoon, two days before what would have been Warren’s 19th birthday, a group of his friends and family gathered in his honor.
“We are here to honor him and to let the community know that this is a tragedy that could have been prevented,” Ryan said.
About 40 people showed up to the memorial, dressed in white shirts printed with Warren’s picture.
There was also a banner for visitors to offer written condolences or memories.
Several of Warren’s friends started wearing the shirts at his funeral and the court dates of Donald Lee Davis, who accidentally shot Warren.
“His friends showed up wearing them to the service. It made me realize just how good of friends Zach had,” Ryan said.
Since then, Ryan has made 105 shirts and has requests for about 100 more. She doesn’t charge for the shirts.
Among the supporters attending Sunday’s memorial was Warren’s brother Mike, who said his brother always lived his life the way he wanted.
Friend Brittany McNeese, 16, said she will always remember Warren because of who he was.
“I remember all the fun times we had. Everything we did always seemed to turn out fun with Zach around,” McNeese said.
Ryan said, “He had a lot of friends; that was one of the extraordinary things about him. If he met you, he made an impression, and he left you feeling good.”
Ryan said she plans on holding an open house at her home in Dayton on Tuesday and will hold another on June 15, the day Warren died. After that anniversary, Ryan said she wants to become more active in addressing gun-safety issues.
Warren and Davis were with friends at a house in the 4900 block of River Road at about 1 a.m. when Davis pulled a pistol from his waistband and began to play around with it.
He pulled the trigger, firing one shot into Warren’s head, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Davis was arrested eight hours later, after fleeing the home. He pleaded guilty in July to involuntary manslaughter and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was later sentenced to 19-48 months for involuntary manslaughter and 24-60 months for being a felon in possession of a firearm, with the sentences to be served consecutively.
While she attended Davis’ court dates, Ryan said her focus was always on remembering her son.
“That’s secondary for me. It’s really been about my son, and we left the rest up to the courts,” Ryan said.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.