Funeral held for 5-year-old Gabriel Martinez Jr.

January 6, 2012 6:24:26 PM PST
A little Oakland boy laid to rest Friday was the third child to die in a shooting in Oakland in just a short few months.

Hundreds went to pay tribute to 5-year-old Gabriel Martinez Jr. at St. Elizabeth's Church in Oakland. The funeral was the third memorial service in Oakland in the last five months paying tribute to a young child killed by street violence. Many people are still in shock that Gabriel is gone.

"Every time he came to my house, he made me laugh," Gabriel's cousin Fernando Folin said. "I loved the little kid."

"If you didn't know him, you would know him, because he would tell you, 'Hey, I'm Gabriel. Come, come play with me," Gabriel's Cathy Bryant told ABC7.

This murder is reaching far beyond the 5-year-old's family. Some people at the service had never even met the young boy. As the funeral was in progress, friends of Gabriel's father put up a banner, basically a prayer of support from the community to the 5-year-old's family.

At 55th and International, a memorial of banners and candles marks where Gabriel was gunned down on December 30. He was standing near his family's taco truck when he was shot. Just down the street is where 3-year-old Carlos Nava was murdered last August. And, a month ago in West Oakland, in a spray of bullets, 23-month-old Hiram Lawrence was shot and eventually died. So, even as people turn out to pay tribute to a little boy at his funeral, this series of murders strikes anger in some people.

"If in Montclair, Piedmont or Pacific Heights, in less than a month, three kids under the age of five were killed, right now, Gov. Brown would be here sending the National Guard to stop it," teacher Alex Vila said.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee offered her condolences to the family as did Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

"What's alarming, I think, is the fact that some of the young shooters don't even respect other young children," Quan said Friday.

Police are still looking for the shooter in this case and are hoping the public can help with information.