Keondra Hooks did not die in vain.
So said the Rev. Randall Parker and Mayor Mike Bell on Thursday as they eulogized the 1-year-old girl killed at her home a week earlier in a barrage of bullets police believe was a gang shooting gone awry.
"Her life had purpose," said Pastor Parker of the Manifested Word Church on Islington Street. "To bring this community together. She is the face of change in this city."
"There is a new day coming and it is all about love," Mayor Bell said during the service at Tate Funeral Services, 3302 Lagrange St.
Dozens of friends, family members, and complete strangers -- including a handful of public officials -- gathered at the funeral home to pay respects to Keondra, who died about 12 hours after she was shot once in the head.
Her sister, Leondra Hooks, 2, was hit in the chest by another of the dozen bullets fired at the girls' family's apartment Aug. 9 in the Moody Manor complex on Kent Street. Family members say she continues to improve daily.
Numerous relatives, including Bernice Neal, an aunt, spoke during the emotional hour-long service.
Mrs. Neal was there the day Quentorria Snowden, the girls' mother, found out she was pregnant with Keondra. Mrs. Neal was there at the hospital the day her niece was born.
"And I was there the day they said, 'She's gone,' " Mrs. Neal recalled.
"She gave me a peace I thought I'd never find," Mrs. Neal said. "I still feel that peace. I still feel her running through my heart, my mind, and my soul because the good Lord says so."
Another aunt, Tamatha Pride, said to the people responsible for taking Keondra's life, "I feel sorry for you."
Other family members struggled at the microphone, including the girls' father, Deandre Hooks, 19, who, overwhelmed, had to step away.
Mr. Parker echoed the mayor's message of change in the city, delivering a strong message during the eulogy that the violence in community is unacceptable.
There was a time in Toledo, he said, when parents did not have to fear allowing their children outside to play, and a time where fights were settled without guns and without gangs.
Officials have said all three men arrested Tuesday and charged with obstructing official business in the case are members of the Manor Boys, a Bloods-affiliated gang that claims Moody Manor as its home base.
Held in the Lucas County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond each are Keshawn Jennings, 20; James Moore, 20, and Antwaine Jones, 18, all of Toledo.
Police sources have confirmed that the shooting was aimed at a member of the Cherrywood Boys, a Crips-affiliated gang based out of the Greenbelt Place apartments on Cherry Street.
Rivalry between the two gangs spans more than a decade, although police have said no incident in particular started the fight.
Prior to the funeral and until most attendees left Tate on Thursday, at least two Toledo police vehicles were parked at St. Adalbert Catholic Church across the street. Police regularly attend and monitor funerals after gang-related shootings.
Linda Alvarado, executive director of the city's Board of Community Relations, attended the funeral.
"It's hard when it's kids because you can place yourself there," said Ms. Alvarado, who is a mother herself. " … I want the violence to stop and for the community to finally come together and get to the root. Get to the root."
Tamatha Hamilton, an aunt to the two girls, said attending the funeral was easier than she expected "because I know she's resting."
She and the rest of the family continue to mourn but say they find some peace in prayer. Now all they want is for Leondra to continue to heal and that "justice will be served for [the girls]."
Before the services, the girls' mother, Ms. Snowden, 20, said Leondra is now up and walking. The family expects to take her home from Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center today.
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.