It was a tragic and somber scene at St. Stevens Baptist Church in Texas, on Saturday, as scores of people gathered to remember De’Earlvion Whitley, a 4-year-old boy who was killed on the night of July 19 in a drive-by shooting.
Known as “Little Earl,” the victim was called a “young superhero” by the Rev. Charles Biggs, who was among the pastors who spoke at the boy’s untimely funeral, The San Antonio Express-News reported.
“We want to celebrate today our young lad, young boy, young baller, young superhero,” Biggs said. “The good thing about Little Earl, he wasn’t at the age of accountability. God has him covered.”
The Rev. Douglas Marshall also passionately spoke out against violence, encouraging the audience not to be apathetic to the issue.
“We don’t need anybody to tell us to take back our community. 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,” Marshall said. “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.”
It’s that same message that encouraged another local faith community — Harvest Time Church — to launch a campaign called Summer Soul Saver aimed at curbing local violence. An associated event over the weekend offered prayer, free clothes, music, food and a safe outlet to enjoy the community, KENS-TV reported.
“We’re going to rally the people and have time for healing. The East Side needs time to heal,” Jondavid De Leo, pastor of Harvest Time Church, told the outlet. “This violence has no color line, boundary line, so as ministers we want to continue to raise the flag of Christ Jesus and say that we have the victory.”
Little Earl was killed while sleeping in his family home on the evening of July 19.
The Department of Justice announced that an arrest has been made in relation to the case, with the San Antonio Police Department detaining Charles Lee Bethany, 36, who allegedly possessed cocaine with the intent to distribute. Authorities believe he was potentially the intended target of the tragic shooting.
Earl’s mother, Cynthwanisha Whitley, vowed after her son’s death earlier this month that the little boy will have justice.
“De’Earlvion was the life of the party. De-Earlvion was the smile of the party. If you were down, De-Earlvion was your joy,” she said. “De’Earlvion Whitley, that 4-year-old, will get his justice.”