“PUT down the gun” was the call of Rev Fabian Sandiford yesterday during the funeral service of Nicholas Noel, a Petit Valley father of two who was shot dead last Tuesday.
A small gathering of family and friends bid farewell to a young man they described as “very loving” at the Petit Valley Pentecostal Church, where Sandiford called for love and compassion to be re-introduced into society.
“Young man, if you have already found yourself in a life of crime, it is not too late,” Sandiford said in a clarion call.
The reverend said the concept of “respect” had changed and was part of a culture of lack of forgiveness and revenge, which many people seek after feeling they had been “disrespected”.
The result is that the lives of many young men are being snuffed out in seconds, he said.
After Noel, 21, was gunned down on Upper Simeon Road in Petit Valley, his mother Deborah Riley agreed to allow his kidneys to be donated to persons in need of transplants.
Riley said her son had spent some time in jail but had, on his release, committed himself to “changing his life around” and to caring for his two children, ages three and eight months.
Noel’s girlfriend is also about two months pregnant, Riley disclosed.
Too grief-stricken to speak at her son’s funeral yesterday, Riley would only say, “Right now, I just have no words.”
Sandiford said peer pressure was a large part of why some people were involved in crime and he advised them to take a stand, be unafraid and to change their paths.
“Don’t be afraid to be a catalyst for change,” Sandiford said, adding, “It is time to put down the gun.”
Noel’s uncle, Mark Simeon, in his eulogy asked that Noel’s short time with the family be celebrated as a gift.
As her son’s small, white-and-silver casket made it’s way out of the church, Riley, sobbing quietly, got up, picked up her purse and followed it outside.
As friends and relatives viewed Noel’s body at the Church entrance, his three-year-old daughter, who had earlier spotted his body, kept asking if that was “Daddy” with his eyes closed.
Noel was buried at the Cameron Road Public Cemetery.