Remembering Sunny Ravi Patel
On Friday, Oct. 14, just after 8 p.m., 15-year-old Sunny Ravi Patel was murdered by an armed robber while helping at the Mr. Hero sandwich shop that his aunt and uncle own on South Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights. He was not an employee, but a dutiful nephew working hard to help his family succeed. The criminal shot Sunny, and he passed away from his injuries just hours later.
Sunny Ravi Patel is the only son of Ravi and Pinal Patel of Highland Heights. A sophomore at Mayfield High School, his friends describe him as hardworking, caring and an avid Cleveland Cavaliers fan.
Mayfield students hosted a candlelight vigil on Oct. 21, prior to the school’s varsity football game. They asked students, staff and community members to wear Cleveland Cavaliers attire for a "Cavs Night" theme in his memory and to show support for his family. Upon hearing the news, his friends designed special T-shirts to honor their friend in the wine and gold colors of his favorite sports team.
Like many in the community, Cleveland Heights-resident Erin Setzer wanted a way to express her sorrow and support the Patel family. She created a Go Fund Me Campaign to help the Patels pay for funeral expenses and other costs. Within six hours, the campaign had already reached its initial $10,000 goal. By press time, more than 1,000 people had contributed more than $37,000.
Setzer posted an update to the campaign page on Oct. 20, stating that, according to Sunny’s aunt, Binta, the family liaison for the campaign, “In a beautiful act of selflessness, they have chosen to donate the funds to several organizations that were close to Sunny's heart. As she said, it is what he would have done with the money. It just goes to show what an amazing young man he was.”
Thousands attended Patel's funeral on Oct. 17 at the Busch Funeral Home in Parma.
Community members and friends attended a prayer vigil for Sunny Ravi Patel and his family at the top of the Cain Park sledding hill on South Taylor Road on Oct. 23. Local community-building nonprofit FutureHeights and clergy members of the Heights Interfaith Network organized the vigil, which began with Mayor Cheryl Stephens and other members of Cleveland Heights City Council walking with the family from the Mr. Hero restaurant to Cain Park. Family members wore the wine and gold T-shirts that Sunny Patel’s friends had designed.
Reverend Donald King of Hope Lutheran Church, along with other clergy representing the diverse faith traditions present in the Heights community, led the crowd of about 200 people in a series of readings and songs. Mayor Stephens spoke, and State Rep. Janine Boyd presented the family with an official statement of condolences from the State of Ohio. Binta Patel then read a statement on behalf of the family, thanking the community for its support, the Cleveland Heights Police Department for apprehending the suspect, and the medical personnel for caring for Sunny during his last hours.
To conclude the ceremony, Reverend Joe Cherry of the Unitarian Universalist Society led the crowd in an “Ohm” ritual, at the conclusion of which each participant placed a glass bead in a vase to symbolize their hopes and prayers for the family.
See photos of the vigil at http://www.heightsobserver.org/photoblogs/deanna-bremer-fisher/prayer-vigil-for-sunny-ravi-patel and learn more about the campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/sunny-patel-family-fund-2unxcbwr.
On Oct. 16, Cleveland Heights police arrested Daveion Perry, 20, of Cleveland Heights. He was indicted on charges related to Patel's murder, and the subsequent armed robbery of the University Heights Subway restaurant and attempted robbery of the Dollar General in Cleveland Heights. On Oct. 26, Perry pled guilty to aggravated murder, five counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of kidnapping, two counts of felonious assault, breaking and entering, obstructing official business and tampering with evidence. On Oct. 28, the court sentenced him to life without parole.
Shari DeCarlo, Deanna Bremer Fisher and Erin Setzer
Shari DeCarlo is a parent mentor for the Mayfield Heights City School District. Erin Setzer is a member of the Cleveland Heights community and the parent of two young boys. Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.