CHICAGO (CBS) — Sending a flurry of balloons into the air, loved ones on Sunday called for a program to protect witnesses to gun crimes.

They said more crimes will be solved if people felt safer coming forward.

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Among those who attended the event in Columbus Park on the city’s West Side was Sharita Galloway of Oak Park.

Her son, Elijah Sims, died in her arms four years ago – a day before his 17th birthday – after he was shot in the 5500 block of West Quincy Street.

Elijah Sims (Photo supplied to CBS)

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Galloway said Sims’ killer should have to feel her pain, and more.

“I need justice for my son. The person who shot and killed my son – they need to wake up every day like I have to do, but they need to wake up behind bars,” Galloway said. “They shouldn’t be free. They shouldn’t.”

Families, ministers, and activists say the city needs to do more so they can have justice, closure, and peace.

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The heart-shaped balloons they released into the air honored victims of gun violence.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff