A family in South Los Angeles County did today what nobody wants to imagine – buried a child. People who loved an energetic 5-year-old boy say his death made no sense.
As adults and children sat inside the City of Refuge church in Gardena, some cried as they watched big screens that showed photos taken throughout the years of Aaron Jerel Shannon Jr’s life.
The boy people say loved to give hugs, was a couple of months into Kindergarten when he was struck by gang gunfire in the backyard of his grandfather's home.
From the pulpit, the child's grandfather William Shannon asked mourners to remember that although the boy's life was short, it was happy.
Police say gang members shot the child in the head while he modeled his superman costume before he planned to go trick-or-treating. Officials say the suspects thought the home was rival gang territory.
Aaron Shannon Jr. was a student at Caldwell Elementary in Compton. At the funeral, principal Fredricka Brown thanked the child’s family for comforting her after the child died.
“They uplifted my heart because this was hard. I’ve been in education - this is my 19th year. I never had to bury a child. I always prayed that I would never have to. But some things happen in life that you have to deal with. And you have to be strong for others.”
Ushers at the service distributed black and silver ribbons as symbols of faith. Aaron’s great-grandfather Clarence Johnson wore his ribbon on his suit jacket. Outside the church, Johnson offered a smile as pallbearers lifted the little boy's white coffin into the hearse.
“He wasn’t shy about nothing," Johnson said. "He loved to play with kids. And when he was getting ready to go out, they just came and took his life for nothing. Man, that’s terrible. That’s just terrible.”
A couple of men who didn’t know the family, offered Aaron’s great-grandfather a few balloons with Spiderman drawn on them - a reference to the costume Aaron wore on Halloween.
Across the street from the church, activists displayed what they called “a wall of shame.” On it, more than 3,000 names of victims of senseless violence in LA county. More than half those who died were children.
On the banner, someone wrote in big, bold letters "God Bless Aaron Shannon Jr."
Officials say the two suspects are scheduled for arraignment next Friday.