Damond Carpenter on the turf of Waldo Stadium.

In late December, Western Michigan University cheerleader Damond Carpenter was killed in a drive-by shooting on Detroit’s east-side while he was home for the holidays. Carpenter, an 18-year-old freshman, tried out for the cheer team in the fall and was quickly making an impression.

The former high school football player was athletic and didn’t run into much trouble when it came to making the team, but his fellow cheerleading peers saw much more than athleticism from the freshman.

“We added more cheerleaders in the fall and after a few practices they would earn their gear, their practice clothes and shoes,” WMU Cheer Coach Chris Wang said. “So when I handed it to him he had the biggest smile on his face he was so excited. As soon as he got his bag, he ran to the bathroom to put on what the rest of the team was wearing and somehow his smile got bigger.”

Carpenter’s family and friends held a candlelight vigil near the spot where he died on Wednesday, Dec. 27.

“The first time I met him it was at this orientation for freshman and basically people would announce ‘if you’re on a sports team walk across the stadium’ and he wasn’t even on the team yet but he was running across the stadium,” senior cheerleader Megan Ellefson said. “I would say he was passionate about everything and really positive and excited about what he was doing.”

Carpenter’s family also set up a GoFundMe page to pay for Carpenter’s funeral. They have raised over half their goal of 10,000 according to the page. The fundraiser is still active and can be donated to.

“He entered a room and he just had this energy around him that everything was all good,” said senior cheerleader Andrew Fadanelli. “You could go up and talk to him about whatever and he would lift your spirits. If you were down he would pick you right back up.”

Carpenter’s personality it seems was infectious, and his smile warm.

“When I first met Damond and he joined the team, I started talking to him immediately and I was like ‘hey man, I’ve never had a handshake,’ because you know you see all the sports teams with their handshakes so he said ‘we’re gonna make one,’” freshman cheerleader Stefon Hemphill said. “I think the first time we made it was at the Akron football game. There was a delay and we had all that time to wait and we made that and we were like ‘this is our handshake.’ and after that everyone else on the team started to get into it as well.”

(2) comments

Wayne Reif



Wayne Reif

On behalf of the Damond Carpenter family, I would like to extend my sincere thanks for everything WMU has done for the family. All your financial contributions, kind words in emails and Facebook comments, and the group of cheerleaders and staff that came to the funeral Visitation. Everything is greatly appreciated. Also, we want to tell you that the Detroit Police Department is still actively working the case, but no arrests yet. Today, we did a Crime Stoppers press, hoping to bring out some tips leading to an arrest. Here is one of the tv stories. Again, we appreciate everything WMU has done for us. Thank you.

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