As the family of DeSean Milligan prepared for his funeral today, they also pleaded with the community to help find answers about why a funeral is necessary.

Milligan, 18, was found dead on the ground early Labor Day morning in the area of East Fifth Street and North Spring Lake Drive at the Hawthorne Place Apartments in northeast Independence, after officers responded to a call for shots fired. Detectives have interviewed witnesses and checked many cameras, but thus far the most significant lead Independence Police have is surveillance video depicting a vehicle of interest – one of unclear make and model but with large rims.

“We need to have his back, like he had all of yours,” Milligan's mother Michelle Hill said. “Some days, I wake up and I think it was a dream.”

John Syme, IPD's public information officer, said detectives know witnesses heard four to five shots.

“This occurred near open windows in a busy apartment complex,” he said. “We know there were people outside when it happened.”

“We need someone to come forward; we need someone to take responsibility for this. But we also there are people who are scared out there and don't want to talk.”

Hill said Milligan was shot in the back after an apparent minor disagreement, though police were not able to confirm those details Monday.

Hill said her son, a graduate of William Chrisman High School who had recently turned 18 and had two younger siblings, had thrived at the local Boys & Girls Club, was about to begin a job at Pizza Hut and had plans to apply for his own apartment soon.

Milligan apparently wasn't a resident of Hawthorne, but his aunt said he visited friends there so frequently he was a welcome figure.

“Everybody in that area knew him,” Monice Milligan said. “He walked kids to the bus stop and stayed with them. He helped ladies with groceries. He had a lot of friends.”

Milligan's homicide is the sixth this year in Independence. Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call the Tips Hotline at (816) 474-8477, IPD tips at (816) 325-7777 or email leads@indepmo.org. Police say if information given to the Tips Hotline results in an arrest or the issuance of a warrant, the caller is eligible to receive a cash award of up to $2,000.

“It was senseless, and we don't understand; we just want answers,” Monice Milligan said. “At the end of the day, no one has the right to take his life. No one. He didn't do nothing for you to take his life.”