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EAST SIDE TEEN'S DEATH MOURNED
FAMILY, FRIENDS AND EVEN STRANGERS ATTENDED DOMONIQUE JONES' FUNERAL

They started streaming in at about 10:30 a.m.

Dozens of friends, family and even some strangers came to True Bethel Baptist Church Friday to mourn 15-year-old Domonique L. Jones, who died last Saturday when a gunman fired into a crowd of teenagers as they were leaving a girl's graduation party on the city's East Side.

Domonique, who had just graduated weeks ago from the eighth grade at Hamlin Park School 74, died shortly after being struck by a single bullet.

"He was taken before he could even get into high school," said Aisha Thompson, a classmate of his at School 74. "He wanted to play basketball in high school. I guess he won't get to do that."

Domonique was among dozens of teenagers partying when an altercation erupted between two adults, police said. The mother of the girl throwing the party told everyone to leave.

Minutes later, Domonique was standing with a group of 15 to 20 teenagers at the corner of Carl Street and the Scajaquada Expressway at about 12:30 a.m., when a man in dark clothes fired several shots at the group.

A single bullet pierced his body, killing him.

At Friday's funeral, young men and classmates broke down. Young girls had to be consoled. Many of the young people were dressed in white T-shirts, some with Domonique's baby picture on the front, others with a recent photo. Still others wore T-shirts that simply asked why.

His mother, Parshalle Byrd, kissed her son's face as she passed by the coffin. Though Domonique had brothers and sisters, he was his mother's only biological child.

She expressed her pain in a poem she composed for him.

We've only been together for 15 years.

What am I going to do without you?

. . . Who would've known that we only had one more last day to spend together.

I would do anything to be with you again.

Police have not made an arrest yet in the case, and it's something Friday's mourners are trying to come to terms with.

"He was just a kid, just a kid, who had just graduated from eighth grade," said Karen Banks, one of the victim's aunts, adding that her nephew was "really quiet, very respectable and well-loved."

Wilhemina Mennieweather, a neighbor of Jones and the grandmother of two of his brothers, remembered seeing Domonique several times the day he died. He had passed by her house about five times as she sat on the porch. And each time he passed, he made it a point to stop and wave to her.

"Most young people wouldn't have done that. They probably would have said, 'I ain't gonna wave again,' but he did," Mennieweather said. "I never shall forget that."

e-mail: dswilliams@buffnews.com

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