Family mourns 4-year-old boy killed by hit-and-run driver in Rockford

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The family of a 4-year-old Rockford boy who was killed in a hit-and-run is speaking out, saying Darnell Brown, Jr. was walking home from a park with family and friends when he and his 10-year-old cousin were hit.

First responders were called to the intersection of N. Central Ave. and School St. around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 22nd, where DJ and the girl were hit crossing the intersection.

Investigators said the driver fled the scene. At 9:17 p.m., officers spotted a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle on Kilburn Avenue, with front end damage and no working headlights.

Javaughn Cooper, 30, told police he was coming from Auburn Street and was unaware of the damage to his car, according to a police report. He then ran from officers during the traffic stop, police said. He was chased down and taken into custody at the intersection of N Horsman and Maple Ave.

The Brown family says they’ve had a difficult time since DJ’s death.

“I can’t imagine him not being here,” said Trishia Brown. “We wake up every morning looking for him, and go to sleep every night looking for him. There’s not a moment we don’t think about him. We just want him to come back.”

Darnell Brown said he will miss the special moments he shared with his son. “There’s so much stuff about him. He loved going live with me on Facebook, and loved to laugh and play with me and play hide and seek. [He’d say] ‘daddy, come find me’ when he was laying there, right by me, under his little blanket.”

“He was a great big brother,” Trisha added. “I thought he would be jealous at first, but he wasn’t he just loved him and accepted him played with him.”

The Browns say they have so many unanswered questions about why Cooper allegedly didn’t stop to help.

“I just want to know why? How? Why didn’t he at least try to help?” the couple said said.

They say little DJ’s death has left a void in their family, and have pledged to remember him every single day.

“Just forever keep saying his name and his story, and just remembering who he was,” she said. “It’s a memory we have to live on forever without him. How as a parent are we supposed to continue our lives, knowing that he’s not here?”

The family set up a GoFundMe to help pay for medical and funeral expenses.

The 10-year-old girl was taken to a Chicago hospital for further treatment, and has now been upgraded to stable condition.

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