As hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem for the funeral of a 4-year-old boy who was killed on a playground in the South Bronx, mourners decried a recent rash of gun violence in New York City that has left two children dead and several wounded.
“This ought to be a wake-up call for all of us,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said in his eulogy for the boy, Lloyd Morgan Jr. “Our babies are dying.” He castigated both elected officials who argue over firearms policies and “gun-toting, thug-acting” young men who buy into a culture of criminality. “This boy should be on the conscience of all of us,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m as sad as I am angry.”
Music swelled from an organ and a choir dressed in white swayed and sang hymns as Lloyd’s mother, Shianne Norman, sat in the front pew, a few feet away from a white coffin that stood in front of a plain wooden pulpit.
Ms. Norman said that many would sorely miss Lloyd, a boy who relished breakfasts of pancakes and bananas and who loved his sister, even though the two often quarreled. “Don’t tell me to be happy with the time I had,” she said as relatives sobbed. “Because I want more.”
Among the mourners was Cassel Brooks, the father of Kemar Brooks, a 14-year-old boy whose body was found on July 27, fatally shot by an unknown gunman in a public park in the Bronx where he had been playing tennis. Lloyd was among a group of young children who gathered on July 22 in a playground near the Forest Houses on East 165th Street. They watched a basketball tournament organized as a memorial for Troynisha Harris, an 18-year-old who was fatally stabbed at the playground two years earlier.
The tournament had just ended, the police said, when gunmen began exchanging fire. Two people were injured. Lloyd was struck in the head and died almost immediately, bleeding onto the asphalt as people nearby scattered for cover. Two people have been charged with murder in the shooting, and another with gun possession.
Recent shootings in which bystanders have been wounded also include a basketball tournament at Rucker Park in Harlem on July 25, at which five were shot, and a drive-by shooting in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on Sunday night that injured six, including a 2-year-old girl.
For hours before Lloyd’s funeral, many gathered at the churchfor a viewing.
Kristie Hill, 39, of Harlem, said she had not known the boy or his family but was drawn to the church because she felt the need to mark the passing of a young life.
“Too many kids dying,” she said, standing on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.
Lorraine Fluellen-McMorris, 55, who said she had known Lloyd’s grandmother for decades, described herself as “heartbroken.”
Mourners at the funeral clutched programs that featured a photograph of Lloyd smiling on a sandy beach, blue waves visible behind him. A sheet tied to an iron railing in front of the church bore messages of remembrance. “Sleep in peace,” read one: “We love you.”
Nearby, Lawrence West, 45, from East New York, Brooklyn, said that Lloyd, a “fun-loving, happy little boy,” had gone to Coney Island with his 8-year-old daughter, Shadaysia, the Thursday before the shooting. It had been a good day, Mr. West said, with the children eating cake and making sand castles. Days later he was reeling from the news of the death.
Some in the crowd remarked on the age of one of the men accused of murdering Lloyd.
“This is a 4-year-old killed by a 17-year-old,” Mr. West said. “Our youth are killing our youth.”
After the funeral, a group of men wheeled the small white coffin up the center aisle. Ms. Norman placed a hand on the coffin as she rose, then wiped her eyes and followed it outside.
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