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When Rickquese McCoy was young, Swan Canyon behind his house was off-limits. It was overgrown and pitch-black at night, making it the perfect venue for illegal activity — or, if you were a kid, just enough rebellion to put your parents on edge.

McCoy’s mother Patricia said he often ignored her warnings about the chasm of land that runs parallel with Highland Avenue in City Heights. He went back there all the time.

Now that canyon is the final resting place for McCoy, who was gunned down June 30 in a random shooting on 44th Street that also left 34-year-old Stephen McClendon dead and another seriously injured.

Friends and family spread McCoy’s ashes earlier this month at the base of a toyon tree planted for him by the Ocean Discovery Institute’s Watershed Avengers. The group beautifies and clears debris from urban canyons that lead to the bay and ocean.

“We had a lot of good little memories together, especially coming up in this canyon and trying to be sneaky as little kids,” said McCoy’s sister, Kayla Hodges, 18. “This is a spot you guys can all come to, vent to him, talk to him just like he’s still here. His spirit is right here on the block.”

Photo by Dennis Wood
Rickquese McCoy’s sister Kayla Hodges shares memories of her childhood with McCoy.

Residents on the block have been honoring McCoy by coming together to seek solutions to increased violence in City Heights. They lacked a formal place to remember him until now.

Photo by Dennis Wood
Rickquese McCoy’s family and friends gather around the tree in Swan Canyon.

Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her directly at meburks@kpbs.org or 619.550.5665.

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Megan Burks

Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her...

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