On June 2nd, McAllister “Cal” Reilly, a 17-year-old high school student from Chesterfield County, Va., hung himself in a tunnel under a roadway. The suicide came as a major shock for two of Reilly’s high school friends.
Also shocking were the two felony charges of property destruction and conspiracy they face in court this week.
According to WTVR, the two teens are accused of defacing the community tunnel Reilly hung himself in.
Following the sudden suicide, roughly 30 of Reilly’s friends and acquaintances held an impromptu memorial, spray-painting messages on the walls of the tunnel. The messages were addressed to Reilly and many mourners expressed relief, the memorial acting as a type of closure to the unexpected tragedy.
“He was my best friend,” says Christine, a friend of Reilly’s from school. “I didn’t want to say good-bye quite yet.”
“Just getting out our last words. It was like saying something to him,” adds Devon, another friend.
Others expressed gratitude for a communal space to mourn. According to Allie, a friend of Reilly’s from the grade below, the tunnel marked “a place to come together and not be alone.”
Eventually the brightly colored messages on the walls marked the tunnel as “Cal’s Tunnel.” However, despite the catharsis the tunnel provides, it was never legally Cal’s. A meeting was held by the Hampton Park Homeowner’s Association to hear from disconcerted homeowners in the area.
For what it's worth: the “vandals” did not operate in secrecy. There was an open sign-up list to paint the tunnel. Moreover, the list included both students and parents looking for some resolution.
According to Christine, police even facilitated the memorial; “I remember on the first day when the cops first came up. They put flares on the road to show people where to park. So none of us thought we were doing anything wrong.”
But the Homeowner’s Association decided to hire private contractors to paint the tunnel professionally instead and shortly thereafter the police arrested two of Cal’s high school friends. The felony charges of property destruction and conspiracy could keep the students from going to college.