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Fond memories of a life cut short

It is a death that has shocked an entire community.

Nearly 50 friends, family and well-wishers gathered at a Rally for Peace in front of Hoffman Park on a warm spring evening Friday, May 6, to honor Tyler Rhodes, 17, an Albany High School student who was stabbed in the park a week earlier.

A close family friend mourning the teen said the incident might have been the wakeup call the neighborhood needed.

It's so sad they had to take him from us because we love him so much, and everyone that knew him loved him, said Sarah Acker, 35. "But I feel like they had to take someone like him to teach these kids to say it's not worth it. It can happen to me. It happened to Tyler. These kids need so much more support than they get."

Albany City Police Deputy Chief Steve Riley said Jah-Lah Tyree Vanderhorst, 16, of Albany allegedly stabbed Rhodes once in the chest with a knife, on Saturday April 30, and when Rhodes made an attempt to get away, Dhoruba A. Shauib, 19, of Albany, allegedly stood in his way.

Vanderhorst and Shauib have been charged with second degree murder.

Rhodes' death has brought an onslaught of community support. Tyler's mother, Stacey Rhodes, and stepfather Michael Sofer were on hand at the rally, which was sponsored by SNUG, a community-based violence prevention model.

"Everybody in the community has been super supportive," Stacey said. "We can't thank everybody."

There is a reason that there has been so much support. Rhodes was a charismatic person described as someone whose smile would comfort you and who would give you words of encouragement, even if you only knew him in passing.

"You could be in the most serious situations, even with me being the stepfather, and I could be ready to explode, and he'll just say something and we'll burst out into laughter," Sofer said. "He had the ability of reading people so well, and in turn, being able to make them each feel right in their own way. Knowing how to talk to each person, it was an amazing gift that he had."

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