GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There was standing room only as family and friends of Ray Howze III said their final goodbyes Friday at the Good Deeds Community Center in Gulfport. The teen was murdered Sunday, police say he was an innocent victim murdered for his car.
"This was a senseless death," the Rev. Billy Ray Jackson said.
"Two years out of high school and studying to be a pharmacy tech went to a store and got shot in the head and the back because of something he had," Howze's cousin Dion Jones said. "My family did everything right, but that night, he still didn't have a chance."
While it may never make sense, it's something those who loved Howze know they have to accept.
"It hurts on the inside," Howze's cousin Charnell Jackson said. "Through all of this, we got to hold our head up and smile. That's what he would want us to do."
In just 19 short years, Howze made a lasting impression on all who knew him.
"Some call him goofy, laughable, good guy and all that is true," Jackson said.
"Blood couldn't have made us closer," Howze's friend Amiyah Magee said. "He was just the sweetest person."
While Howze is gone, those who love him are challenged to carry on his legacy and not let his death be in vain.
"He's alive and on this earth," Jackson said. "He continues to live as long as you can remember the good times, the fun, the laughter. You have got to keep it alive."
"All of us must become the interrupters of these senseless killings of black men. We must interrupt the silence that makes it seem it is ok and hold people accountable, and we must interrupt this evil that's destroying our future," Jones said. "Preach to the teens to shout not just for Ray Ray, but for every black boy in this city, in this state, in this country that black lives matter."