Lighting small, white candles, the families of two slain Istrouma High School students and dozens of mourners gathered Tuesday night in front of Living Faith Christian Center to remember the victims killed two days apart and the larger problem their murders represent.
“I hope someone gives me a name,” Linda Smart, mother of Darren Smart, said after the prayer. “I know I can’t get my boy back, but just something.”
Shawn LeBeuf, mother of Darrion LeBeuf, deferred to her husband, Elliot Drewery, to speak on her behalf.
“The bodies got to stop,” Drewery said.
Darren Smart, 18, was shot while attempting to run into a house on Bradley Street at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15, police have said.
Two men rode bicycles past the house on Bradley Street numerous times before stopping, shooting into a group of men that included Smart standing outside, police have said.
Smart’s body was found inside the house, police have said.
Darrion LeBeuf, 16, was found dead on Sept. 17 from a gunshot wound inside a home on Delaware Street, police have said.
No arrests have been made in either case. Funeral services have been held for both victims. Smart was a senior and LeBeuf was a freshman at Istrouma High.
The memorial service was organized by Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle. It featured the Rev. Raymond Johnson, pastor of Living Faith Christian Center, as well as other law enforcement and religious figures. About 80 people attended the service.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux asked the audience to help bring justice in cases like the shootings of the two boys.
“It’s not just law enforcement,” he said. “It’s everybody.”
Gautreaux recalled a recent TV interview after a shooting in the Gardere area where a woman recalled getting pressured not to speak to law enforcement.
“That’s someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s uncle lying there dead in the street, and you’re not going to say anything?” Gautreaux asked.
Assistant District Attorney Ronald Gathe Jr., speaking for District Attorney Hillar Moore III, said the hardest part of his job as a criminal prosecutor is talking to families of someone murdered to prepare them for the trial to come.
“You have to sit through a week of pain in hopes that that will bring solace, and it doesn’t always do that,” Gathe said.
The Rev. Conway Knighten, pastor of St. Mary Baptist Church, had the most to say. He said he worked for 14 years for the juvenile corrections system, but still can’t understand why these kinds of killings happen.
“I never understood why children who look like each other kill each other,” he said. “Never understood.”
Reggie Martin, a Christian rapper who goes by the stage name Kings Kidd, offered an answer.
“Money has changed people. People don’t love each other,” he said. “It’s all about money.”
Almost everyone who spoke suggested that faith in God is the answer.
Martin said he listened to God when gave up a lucrative music contract and became a Christian rapper instead.
Knighten, however, acknowledged trouble understanding Jesus’ purpose in allowing all of this killing but he said he has no doubts that there are reasons why.
“I’ve got a lot of questions when I get to see Jesus,” he said.
Linda Lewis, principal of Istrouma High, was in the audience.
She said some students at the school have seen counselors and the school is following up this week with lessons during home room about grief and the different ways people grieve.
Lewis said one way to get children off the streets is have them take greater advantage of the things the school has to offer.
“Let the kids stay in school,” Lewis said. “We’ve got lots of activities for them.”