BILLINGS — Family and friends gathered on the Billings Rims Tuesday night to honor Kane Streitz, a 19-year-old who was shot last week.
Dozens were bundled up against the wind and cold to hold a flashlight to remember Streitz and share memories of the young man.
Streitz's mother, Heather Starr, told the crowd she's had moms and her son's friends reaching out to share stories, many of them about how Streitz saved their lives or brought them out of a dark place. She said the overwhelming support helps ease the pain of her loss.
"It opens your eyes to a lot of things. There's a lot of things that I found out about my son through all of this that I didn't know about him and those are the kinds of things that I need you guys to keep sending me and keep telling me about. I want to tell all of you just thank you and God bless all of you," Starr said.
The crowd also heard from Streitz's brother Austin, who grew up with Streitz, but didn't know they were brothers until they were adults.
“That brother became my ride or die. Every time that he would get in a fight or want to race somebody, he would call me to pump him up and usually it would be me racing him. I couldn’t ask for anyone better for a brother than him. He saved me through a lot of hard times. He’s my guardian angel now. That’s hard to say now," Austin said.
Before the vigil, the family set up a heart-shaped memorial for Streitz and decorated the rims with flowers and teddy bears.
Streitz's family all wore matching sweatshirts with multi-colored hand prints painted on them. Streitz's father, Elder Tracy Starr, said each sweatshirt had one of Streitz's hand prints painted on, along with others from the family.
“One of those hand prints belongs to Kane and we put all of the other hand prints on there as a symbol. Everybody say taste the rainbow … that’s what my family is made of," Tracy said.
Tracy Starr offered a message to those in attendance. He encouraged parents to let their children live their lives and for parents not to impose their dreams on their children.
"They have their own personalities. They have their own dreams. They have their own desires. Not your desires. Don't try to live your life through your children. Let them live their lives. ... Who are we going to turn the world over to if we destroy this generation now. They cannot become who we need them to become and that's the best of them," Tracy said.
Streitz's friends remembered him as a guy that loved to ride motorcycles. One friend said the best time he had with Streitz was last summer, cruising around the city on their motorcycles.
Streitz's cousin, Kevin, said Streitz just moved in with him this year. They shared a bunk bed in a room that's felt really empty the past few days, Kevin said.
“I’m kind of sad about everything. I cried three times over it. I don’t know what to say really. It’s hard to say that he’s gone, because it still feels like he’s still supposed to be there underneath me when I’m sleeping. But it’s been really hard going in my room afterwards," Kevin said.
To close the vigil, Tracy led the crowd in a rendition of "Amazing Grace" while everyone waved their flashlights to the sky.
From there, some in the crowd took a final cruise from the Rims to Dillards for one last ride to honor Streitz.