Home Mobile Mourners pack East Side church to attend slain 4-year-old’s funeral

Mourners pack East Side church to attend slain 4-year-old’s funeral

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De-earlvion Whitley, 4, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting late Wednesday, July 19, 2017, in the 200 block of Hub Avenue. A gofundme page has been set up to assist the family with expenses in light of the tragedy.

De-earlvion Whitley, 4, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting late Wednesday, July 19, 2017, in the 200 block of Hub Avenue. A gofundme page has been set up to assist the family with expenses in light of

There wasn’t a seat left in St. Stevens Baptist Church on Saturday for the funeral of De’Earlvion Whitley, known as Little Earl, the 4-year-old boy killed at home July 20 in what police believe was a gang-related drive-by shooting.

At the front of the church, stood a little white coffin surrounded by blue and white flowers.

Ushers struggled to find room for all those who came to support the child’s parents, Earl and Cyntwanisha Whitley, adding chairs to the ends of pews, taking people behind the pastors to sit in the choir chairs and directing stragglers to stand in the back.

“We want to celebrate today our young lad, young boy, young baller, young superhero,” said Rev. Charles Biggs, one of several pastors who participated in the service at the East Side church. “The good thing about Little Earl, he wasn’t at the age of accountability. God has him covered.”

RELATED: Mother of 4-year-old boy killed in East Side drive-by asks for justice, not retaliation

Many of the mourners were wearing something blue, from headbands to sneakers, in honor of the child, as requested by family.

“We are choosing to remember our happy times with him and he loved football,” said Brandy Sheppard, whose son was one of Little Earl’s Texas Spartans teammates. “He absolutely loved football.”

Sheppard told a story about the boy struggling with pulling flags one day during practice. In an effort to help him get better and get his smile back, she offered a deal.

“For every flag he pulled, I would give him candy,” she told the crowd, smiling at the memory. “He probably pulled 10 flags that day and he earned that big bag of Starbursts.”

RELATED: Feds: Accused San Antonio drug dealer involved in shooting death of 4-year-old

Everyone who spoke about their relationship with Little Earl mentioned his ever-present smile and big hugs.

“We know that our bodyguard is still there with us and we will play every game this season…” Sheppard broke for a minute to wipe away tears and regain her composure. “He will be there with us for every game. We will have his number and his initials on our jerseys.”

When it was his turn, Devin Brown Sr. talked about how Little Earl was like a son to him and that he and Brown’s son were brothers.

“I had to get up early to tell my son that his brother’s gone,” Brown said.

RELATED: S.A. man allegedly involved in drive-by that killed 4-year-old has lengthy criminal history

He went on to talk about the violence in the communities that ended Little Earl’s life: “That’s got to end, bro, because that’s what happened here.”

Rev. Douglas Marshall also called for an end to the violence.

“We don’t need anybody to tell us to take back our community,” Marshall said. “We already know that. You call this senseless, but to those who did it, it made a lot of sense — that’s what they do. If we leave from here with a ‘not me’ attitude, we’re going to be doing a lot more funerals. I don’t like funerals. It takes one person to decide — I’m going to do it different. I’m going to try Jesus.”

JPolcyn@express-news.net

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