BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A priest urged teens attending Saturday's funeral for an eighth-grader who was shot by police after pointing a pellet gun at them to learn from his experience and "get out of trouble."
The Rev. Jorge Gomez spoke in English and Spanish to hundreds of people who packed a Brownsville church for the funeral of 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez. Police say Gonzalez was shot twice in the torso Wednesday morning after refusing officers' repeated requests to drop what was later identified as a pellet gun.
Gonzalez's parents have said lethal force wasn't necessary.
Gomez saved his most poignant remarks during the funeral for Gonzalez's contemporaries. Dozens of them filled pews at the church just blocks from the teen's home wearing matching white t-shirts with his photograph on the back.
The priest thanked them for their generosity — kids from the neighborhood ran a car wash to raise money for funeral expenses — and urged them to continue in that spirit.
"I implore you young people, learn from this experience," Gomez said. "It is not easy to be a teenager ... but it does not last forever."
He added, "Young people, I invite you to get out of trouble. Don't get lost."
Gomez and others have said the neighborhood is a tough place to grow up. There are many single-parent homes and some gang problems. Neither was an issue in Gonzalez's case though, Gomez said earlier in the week.
The priest said he would always remember Gonzalez's generosity. He saved his pesos and brought them to the church so they could be spent on candies for children during holiday celebrations. Gonzalez was frequently seen delivering jugs of water on his bike to neighbors who couldn't get to the store, Gomez said.