HOPEWELL — The candle lit Tuesday night should have been on P’aris Mi-Unique Angel Moore’s birthday cake. Instead, they were in the hands of mourners in the parking lot of a nearby church.
A memorial service was held Tuesday night in the city’s Arlington neighborhood to commemorate the girl who was killed last week in what police believe was a drive-by shooting, which was supposed to be her ninth birthday. On that day, a crowd of over 300 gathered from around the city and the region.
Mourners wiped tears from their eyes at the thought that Paris would die as suddenly as she did. They clung to each other, trying to understand why her life had been taken. They prayed for her and her family. They pass on words of encouragement from friends and community leaders. They chanted her name several times.
They also sang “Happy Birthday” to her, but not in the traditional way.
After the song was sung, her Aunt Leisha Moore Burns said, “All we can think about is Paris today. She just wanted to have a good time. My baby said, Auntie, I’m 9. I’m no longer a little 8…a big 9.”
Barnes said Paris planned to celebrate her birthday “alone.” Because Paris and her sister shared her birthday very closely.
“The party was about both of them,” Burns said. “But today was about her.”
A balloon-decorated bicycle stood in front of the crowd, reminding her that Tuesday was her birthday.
Thousands of speakers offered prayers, uttered words of comfort and called for an end to the gun violence that has plagued Hopewell in recent years.
“If a child’s death doesn’t set a fire in a community to support justice, I don’t know what will happen,” said Hopewell businessman Taboris Marks. “This is the change the city needs.” must be a catalyst for
Marks urged anyone who might know anything about the suspect to share that knowledge with authorities. and someone in the crowd came to say it was comparable to that amount. The games continued, and by the end of the night, the reward fund had reached $4,000.
Charles Willis, leader of the Richmond group United Communities Against Crime, added that “the snitch doesn’t sting,” after the bounty fund was increased. “The snitch is paid!”
Dr. Melody Hackney, principal of Hopewell School, told the crowd that she represented a “pink ocean” in the middle of the crowd – teachers and staff at Harry E. James Elementary School, where Paris was a sophomore. She also said that she “loves this child” on behalf of everyone else at the school, and was touched by her presence.
Hackney referred to a quote about living in “a world of tremendous pain” that can only be repaired with “tremendous love”, which she said would be Paris’ legacy at Hopewell.
“I’m sorry I took this [homicide] To mobilize the community,” Hackney said.
more:Community walk to remember children killed in Hopewell drive-by shooting last week
Chesterfield Democratic Senator Joe Morrissey recalled a recent conversation between his two young children about Paris’ death. One of the children wanted to know why Paris died, and the other said it was because “God wanted her to be with him, not on this earth.”
So far, no motive for the shooting has been reported, nor has the type of weapon used been made public, but Morrissey suspected it was a powerful weapon. He added that the upcoming general assembly will introduce legislation banning public ownership of what he calls “weapons of war,” the AK-47 and AR-15 assault guns.
St. Petersburg Reverend Belinda Boe also spoke all night. Bo is known for her work with families of murder victims and other victims of criminal violence around Petersburg.
“This violence is something I’ve pursued for quite some time,” said Bo, pastor of the New Divine Worship Center. “And when we go before God in prayer, we need you to do something as a community.
Arrangements for Paris’ funeral were announced Wednesday morning.
A public viewing will be held on Friday, January 6, from noon to 8 p.m. at the Tucker Funeral Home on Halifax Avenue in Petersburg. At 1:00 pm the following day, services will be held at the Metropolitan His Baptist Church on Halifax Street, also in Petersburg.
Meanwhile, an investigation into her death is ongoing. If you have information about a crime or suspect, please contact Hopewell Police at (804) 541-2284 or a crime solver at (804) 541-2202. Information can also be shared through the P3Tips mobile app.
Bill Atkinson (he/him/his) is an award-winning journalist covering breaking news, government and politics. To reach him, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @BAtkinson_PI.