Article | Slain Barrhaven teen Michael Swan memorialized in graffiti

Article Written by Gary Dimmock of the Ottawa Citizen photo.jpgGraffiti artist Drone and his girlfriend worked for 10 nights to create this tribute to slain Barrhaven teen Michael Swan. Under the bridge on Highway 416, where it crosses the Jock River in Barrhaven, graffiti artist Drone and his girlfriend worked under cover of darkness for 10 nights to pay tribute to 19-year-old Michael Swan, who was executed five years ago in his bedroom by Toronto hoods over a bag of weed. He was shot in the back at point-blank range in his bedroom in the early hours of Feb. 22, 2010, as he knelt down at gunpoint next to his girlfriend after watching the Canada versus the U.S. hockey game at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The bullet pierced a lung and his heart. He died in less than a minute. The graffiti artist usually pays tribute to Swan, who was just 19, on the anniversary of his killing. This year, the extreme cold got in the way. It took him 10 nights, and he had lots of help from his girlfriend. The Scottish-themed piece says “Mike Swan 1990-2010″ and pays respect to his family crest, the one that reads Constant and Faithful. Last year Drone paid tribute to Swan with a piece that highlighted the words Constant and Faithful. When graffiti writers in Montreal heard that it was later tagged over by others, they drove to Barrhaven and restored it out of respect for the slain Barrhaven teen. “It shows that people still remember him and that even at a young age of 19, he has a lasting legacy in Barrhaven,” brother Alex Swan said Wednesday. MikeSwan1x.jpg19-year-old man Michael Swan died in less than a minute after a bullet pierced his heart. Swan’s family has been broken since the 2010 killing. His mom’s favourite holiday was Christmas, but the family stopped celebrating it — they don’t even put up a tree. They skip birthdays, too. Sadly, his parents blame themselves, and to this day feel guilty for enjoying anything. At the sentencing hearing for one of the convicted, Dale Swan, a private man, said: “I take exception that I have to do this in open court and before one of the very individuals responsible for my son’s death. This in itself I consider a form of victimization, but I realize this will be my only opportunity to try to put a human face on what has been, up to now a very cold, clinical, detached legal process.” He said every special occasion reminds them only of their dead son. Just this past Christmas Eve, he sensed his longtime wife was having a particularly hard time. When he asked her what was wrong, Rea Swan broke down in tears and told him: “I hate my life … I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up.” Kyle Mullen and Dylon Barnett, both 23, were convicted of second-degree murder in separate trials and sentenced in early February to life in prison. With time already served, Mullen will not be eligible for parole until at least 2025; Barnett could apply for parole as early as 2022. Triggerman Kristopher McLellan was convicted of first-degree murder in late 2013 and is serving a life sentence, and a fourth, Sam Tsega of Ottawa alleged to have provided information about where to find Swan, is awaiting trial. Dale Swan still considers himself a failure as a father. “Ultimately, it was my job to protect my child, to identify the dangers and do whatever was required to deal with them. I thought I was doing this, but it proved not to be enough. I must live with this guilt for the rest of my life.” Rea Swan — they met at a bank where she was a teller and he a customer — told court that life will never be the same. “Just enjoying a beautiful sunny day, a good meal or even a laugh at a good joke brings with it a feeling of guilt, she said. “How can I enjoy these things? My son is dead … I have been robbed of my son and the joys of life … There remains a large hole in my heart that will never go away. ” The memorial graffiti that goes up every year somewhere in Barrhaven gives them a small dose of comfort. After all, the last five years of trials has been exhausting. They describe their son as a natural athlete who could make you laugh. And, they said, he never held a grudge. They’ll also rightly tell you that his future was stolen. Swan sold only marijuana, and like many suburban Ottawa teens, loved to smoke it while watching hockey in his bedroom. He spent the last night of his life next to his girlfriend of 4½ years, watching the big game. Then, the next moment, they were ordered onto their knees at gunpoint by three masked men — all from Toronto. “I relive every Sunday night, minute by minute, knowing the times and events that led to my son’s execution,” Rea Swan told court at the sentencing hearing. “I have nightmares of the terror Michael experienced the night he was executed. My heart aches of knowing that my son lay on the floor in his room dying alone with no one to help. The image is forever imprinted in my brain and can never be removed. “Our family is forever broken; a piece of my heart is gone.” Originally written and spotted over at The Ottawa Citizen. Written by Gary Dimmock

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