MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton called it a terrible day for all of Minnesota. Wednesday, the Governor and hundreds of others attended the funeral of 3-year-old Terrell Mayes, Jr. at the True Vine Missionary Baptist in North Minneapolis.
Terrell was killed by a stray bullet on Colfax Avenue North after neighborhood gunfire last week. The bullet pierced his home as Terrell ran upstairs with his brothers to hide in a closet, carrying a plate of spaghetti. He never made it to the top of the stairs. The bullet hit the back of his head, and he died Dec. 27.
Wednesday, strangers and loved ones packed the church with heartache and without understanding.
“Needlessly, senselessly, and I say, ‘why God?’” asked Dayton, who pledged to do all he can to stop the violence in the area.
“The governor came out. The mayor has been there for me every day since it happened. I just need some time to myself now,” said Marsha Mayes, Terrell Mayes Jr. “I’m glad that the community is showing me the support. But at the end of the night it’s just me and my kids.”
A stream of family and friends stood up from the pews and cried out for change.
“We are here grieving, we lost an angel. If this doesn’t make you change, what is? If somebody will stand up today, and say I will stop gang banging because of Terrell, I will stop selling drugs because of Terrell, I will stop carrying pistols because of Terrell,” said K.G. Wilson of Hope Ministries, who says the boy’s death must stop the cycle of crime plaguing the neighborhood.
But Terrell has long inspired his family. They called him Juju — a fitting nickname for his rambunctious spirit. On Wednesday, his family members wore T-shirts with a picture of the boy and his bright smile. The shirt said “Million Dollar Smile.”
“God is good, he’s going to watch over us, and he is going to take care of all of us,” said grandmother Jacqueline Mayes through tears.
Loved ones say they can now only make sense of faith, believing the little boy who never made it up the stairs, did make it somewhere else.
“I really hope he can have a good time where he is going,” said a young friend, who was one of dozens recalling fond memories of Terrell from the pulpit. “He was really kind, and when I heard he got shot, my heart just broke in half.”
Police say they aren’t getting much help in finding out who fired the shots. MAD DADS is trying to get donations to up the reward money in hopes someone will come forward.
Police don’t believe his family was targeted. In fact, gun shots are routinely heard in his neighborhood.
Before the service, VJ Smith of MAD DADS said the family is desperate for someone to come forward.
“The family is hurting so bad,” he said. “They want to know what they can do. The community has been quiet, somebody has got to say something.”
The reward for information is currently set at $1,000.