Billboard a reminder of Cleveland teen’s murder unsolved four years later

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– A local mother, who lost her son to gun violence, said she won’t stop fighting until his killer is caught.

“By God’s grace I’m here to continue to fight for justice for my son. I’m not gonna give up,” Neicey Bryant said.

It’s been four years since 17-year-old Michael Chappman was wrongly targeted in a drive-by shooting on Ansel Road near Kenmore Avenue in Cleveland.

Bryant said Michael was walking to the store between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. July 6, 2017, and stopped to talk to a friend he hadn’t seen in awhile when a gunman opened fire.

The strong and talented John Hay High School football player initially survived the gunshots and spoke with FOX 8 News from his hospital bed, but then died weeks later on July 23.

“It’s just like… I remember it yesterday,” Neicey said.

The Cleveland Division of Police said a silver Jeep Liberty was seen speeding away from the scene and investigators have been seeking information about the driver ever since.

On Tuesday, they got a big boost in that effort. Documentary filmmaker and mother Jennifer Williams from Visionary Productions was so moved by Michael’s story when she saw it on FOX 8 News that contacted the family.

“I happened to see your first story about Michael Chappman and remember him in his hospital bed, and as a mother with children about the same age, it just really stuck with me,” Williams saied.

She became close with the family and is filming a documentary called “Unshattered Closure.”

Williams had a billboard installed on Cedar Avenue near East 74th Street in Cleveland with Michael’s picture and images of that silver Jeep.

“The billboard is just a start to what we are planning to do. We are gonna fight for justice, we’re gonna raise reward money so we can definitely help out,” said Williams, all leading up to the documentary’s release in September.

(FOX 8 photo)

When Bryant saw it, she said she was brought to tears.

Not only did she lose Michael, but on Sept. 2, 2020 one of her two surviving daughters, Tinita McGhee, was killed in a car accident. Although she can’t bring either of her beautiful children back, she said the billboard is giving her hope.

“I see the billboard and get to screaming, ‘Oh my God. Thank you, Jesus.’ I just had tears in my eyes,” Bryant said.

And it doesn’t stop there. On Saturday, Bryant and parents of other murdered children are holding a special picnic to honor their children and help other kids in need by collecting school supplies. The event runs from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Walter Burks Park in Cleveland. 

“We’re gonna cook and have games and different stuff for the kids, and honor our children’s legacy,” Bryant said.

As for her son’s killer, she said, “I have faith that I will know what happened to my son. It might not be on my time but it will be on God’s time.”

Anyone with information can call Cleveland police directly or Crime Stoppers 216-252-7463.  A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and tipsters can remain anonymous.

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