Markeyda Anthony still smiles when she thinks about 7-year-old Terrez Coleman, a lively young boy whose life was cut short in a drive-by shooting a week ago.
Anthony, who taught Terrez in her second-grade class at Inspire Charter Academy, recalled the boy’s exuberance when talking about his new horse. He had proudly named it James Brown — James because that was his middle name and Brown because that’s the horse’s color.
Anthony was among more than 500 mourners at a funeral service Saturday for Terrez, who was killed Aug. 16. Although the school year had just begun, Anthony said she will cherish the time she spent and conversations she had with the vibrant, energetic boy.
“It was hard to know that I was coming to see him off,” Anthony said, surrounded by about 30 other teachers and administrators from Inspire Charter Academy, at the Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church Family Life Center in celebration of Terrez’s short, but impactful life.
Terrez died after a shot was fired into his family’s car from what investigators believe was a light-colored, four-door sedan that passed the Colemans in a wooded part of Prescott Road, near Joor Road, late Aug. 16. The family was heading home from a family reunion in Clinton when the bullet pierced the car, grazing one of Terrez’s older sisters, Ty’lia Coleman, before striking Terrez.
The shooting remains under investigation.
The mourners Saturday included Mayor-President Kip Holden and Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr., who came together to sing, laugh and cry as people involved in the young boy’s life told stories about Terrez and talked about his character and love for his family and classmates.
“He was loved by everyone in school and will be forever missed,” Anthony told the packed house during the ceremony.
The Rev. Danny Donaldson, the family’s pastor at Rose Hill Baptist Church, pointed out the large size of the crowd gathered in the center and said he’s been to funerals for much older people who did not draw the crowd that Terrez did.
“It means that he was young, but he made a difference,” Donaldson said. “He was young, but he made an impact. He was young, but he changed all of our lives.”
At the beginning of the ceremony, the large family walked in from the neighboring funeral home, Hall Davis and Sons Funeral Home, and filed by the light blue casket one last time to say goodbye to young Terrez.
The parents and other family members were all clad in white, and white roses sat on the casket. A cowboy hat nestled atop that arrangement.
A smiling picture of Terrez in what appeared to be a school photo stood behind the casket, which was flanked by a vibrant mix of red and yellow roses and other bright flowers.
His parents, Terry and Felicia Coleman, along with his two older sisters, Ty’lia and Te’lia, were overcome with emotion at the beginning of the ceremony, especially when the choir sang Terrez’s favorite song, the CeCe Winans hit “Waging War.”
After the song, friends, family and teachers walked up to the microphone to talk about how Terrez touched their lives.
“I know teachers aren’t supposed to have favorite students, but Terrez was one of mine,” Sara Landry, his first-grade teacher, said.
A teacher then read a poem titled “You meant so much” that will be mounted on the wall in his second-grade classroom to remind his classmates of the smiling 7-year-old.
His best friend, Marcus Spears, said a tearful goodbye on stage, then Pamela Talbert, a neighbor, told the story about how Terrez helped Talbert when her sister passed away.
Talbert said Terrez went over to her house, offered his condolences and said how God would take care of her family and said, “Keep the faith sister, love you,” before leaving.
To explain how Terrez will live on in the people whose lives he touched, Donaldson used the analogy of “bumping” smartphones, touching two phones together to share information rather than texting or emailing. He said Terrez can never die because he bumped into people every day, passing on his infectious spirit.
“What God wants you to do is build on Terrez’s life, not spend the rest of your life mourning over his life,” Donaldson said.
Anita Coleman, Terrez’s second cousin, said after the ceremony that the family’s faith will be what gets them through the rough waters.
“It’s going to be a hard road for the family to heal,” she said.
As pallbearers loaded the light blue casket into the hearse for the final journey to the cemetery in Erwinville, Terrez’s prized stallion, James Brown, stood behind the ministers.
Follow Ryan Broussard on Twitter @ryanmbroussard.