At least 300 people attended a Harlem church service last night and signed a mural dedicated to Lloyd Morgan, the 4-year-old boy shot to death last month at a Bronx basketball tournament.
"We brought him today to send my baby home," the boy's mother, Shianne Norman, told the crowd jammed into the church.
Lloyd, whose nickname was Chris, "was a daddy's boy. He was all about his father . . . the pain I'm in right now is equal to the love I'm getting from all around. Keep me in your prayers because I'm going to need it."
The mural, which depicts Mickey Mouse shedding a tear while standing in a cloud, bears the writings of those who knew Lloyd and those who didn't, but were moved by the tragedy to comment.
His death has touched a nerve in a city where many residents say continued gun violence is as common as the lives it shatters.
"This is a little boy and I wanted to keep it simple," said Ronald Harris, 34, a family friend who designed the canvas mural hanging on a fence outside the church.
"It's just so sad for all of us."
Lloyd was shot in the head July 22 near the Forest Houses in Morrisania.
Three people have been arrested in the shooting: Ronald Jeffrey, 19, is charged with murder, attempted murder and weapons possession; Rondell Pinkerton, 17, is charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon; and Courtney Kelly, 26, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
Before Wednesday's funeral service began, mourners used felt-tip markers to write messages in honor of Lloyd: "Love always, little man," "Rest in peace, little angel" and "May you always shine in our hearts" were among the dozens of sentiments. Tielie Santiago, 39, who lives in Morrisania, said she didn't know Lloyd's family, but was compelled anyway to pay her respects.
"He's a baby," she said, "and I had to come out to show my support."
She was among several people who said the violence has reached a fever pitch, as young men increasingly settle scores with firepower.
"This is terrible," she said. "There's a lot of violence and these kids have to change their attitude. . . . This gangster attitude, it's getting worse."
Jackie Williams, 47, a friend of the Morgan family who also lives in Morrisania, said she doesn't allow her four children, ages 16, 15, 12 and 9, to go anywhere without her.
"It's very hard to lose a child," she said. "And right now I feel a lot of frustration because a lot of little kids are being shot. It's very sad."