A pastor eulogizing Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher Wednesday acknowledged that mourners were having a difficult time coming to terms with the suicide of the former West Babylon High School athlete who shot and killed his girlfriend before taking his own life.
"You may be dealing with mixed emotions this morning, but I believe that we can still give God praise in the midst of death," the Rev. Dawn Mixon said at the Upper Room Christian World Center Church in Dix Hills.
"We may not understand what caused this tragedy," Mixon said. "There are many of those who have their thoughts and opinions on what took place. But God does not judge us on our thoughts and opinions."
Belcher, 25, fatally shot Kasandra Perkins, 22, on Dec. 1 at the Independence, Mo., home they shared with their 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, according to Kansas City police. Belcher then drove to the team complex at Arrowhead Stadium, where he shot himself.
More than 300 mourners gathered at the church for yesterday's funeral.
Beside Belcher's open coffin, there were two elaborate arrangements of yellow flowers -- one in the shape of an intertwined "WB," for West Babylon, and one spelling out "8-0," for his alma mater's perfect regular season in 2004, when Belcher was a senior standout.
Photo collages of Belcher with his family and friends, along with memorabilia from his playing career, were spread out on the stage.
In a message in the funeral program, Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepherd, wrote: "If I would have a lifetime wish or a dream come true, I'd pray to God with all my heart to change that day and bring you back."
Shepherd called police to tell them that her son had shot Perkins, according to police.
Belcher's uncle, Davin Miles, told mourners, "Each one of us holds a special part of him in us."
Belcher also was a wrestler at West Babylon High before playing college football at the University of Maine. He made the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and became a starter this season.
With Gary Dymski