HARLEM — Friends, family and community members gathered Wednesday to mourn the death of Lloyd Morgan, the 4-year-old Bronx boy who was killed last month by a stray bullet in a Morrisania playground.
Pallbearers carried the small all-white coffin into Mount Neboh Baptist Church on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem shortly after 2 p.m. as distraught loved ones embraced each other ahead of the evening service, which didn't end until nearly 9 p.m.
A flower arrangement shaped like a basketball was placed inside the church for the boy who loved the sport and was nicknamed "Little LeBron."
"He loved basketball. He was just a normal 4-year-old boy," said Karen Jenkins, 44, the boy's aunt, outside the church. "It still seems unreal."
"No one should have to lose a child," she added. "Stop-and-frisk should start at home with the parents."
Lloyd was dressed in a white suit and his head was adorned with a Yankees hat, for his favorite baseball team, Jenkins said. A neighbor, Ronald Harris, 34, painted a mural for the child that funeral attendees signed as they walked into the church.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Council Member Jumaane Williams and City Comptroller John Liu were among those who attended the service on Wednesday.
National Action Network founder Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy for the boy, a rousing speech that brought the crowd of mourners to their feet at several points for standing ovations.
At times, Sharpton lowered his eyes to the casket, his voice gripped by sadness. At others, he shouted, calling on those in attendance to put to an end to such violence.
“I’m angry at myself and all of us because it shouldn’t have come to this,” Sharpton said.
“We’re going to use his name to make sure we don’t come back to this," he added. "We need to figure out how to unite a city to stop the violence. This is bigger than all of us.”
Several others who have been impacted by violent acts in New York City attended the funeral on Wednesday. The fiancé of Sean Bell, an unarmed man shot and killed by police on his wedding day in 2006, was there. The mother of Ramarley Graham, who also unarmed when he was shot and killed by police in his home, came as well.
And the brother of Kemar Brooks, the 14-year-old honors student who was shot and killed just last week in the Bronx, was also in attendance.
At a rally in Harlem Saturday, Sharpton was joined by Lloyd's mother, Shianne Norman, and the two called on communities to "Occupy the Corner" and reclaim safety in their neighborhoods.
"I want to use use my son's name, Lloyd Morgan Jr., and my voice to make sure something like this never happens again," Norman, 27, said at the rally. "It's senseless. I just want to know what happened."
During the funeral service, Norman again spoke briefly, this time to express her gratitude for the support she's received in the wake of the tragedy.
"The pain I'm feeling now is equal to the love I'm getting all around me," she said.
Lloyd was playing on a jungle gym at the Forest Houses in Morrisania when gunfire rang out at a nearby basketball court around 9:40 p.m. on July 22. One of the bullets struck the boy in the head.
The boy was taken to Lincoln Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“There were a lot of people out. Then a massive amount of shots out of the blue,” Norman, a cook at Carnegie Hall, told DNAinfo.com New York during a tearful interview at her home after the shooting. “Then my baby was gone.”
About 100 neighbors joined local politicians and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn the day after the shooting to rally and hold a prayer circle for the boy.
Rondell Pinkerton, 17, Courtney Kelly, 26, and Ronald Jeffrey, 19, were charged in the shooting.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said after the shooting that the shootout may have been sparked by another gun battle the night before.
"One location where a group of people hang out and do low-level drug dealing against another location who do virtually the same thing," Kelly said after the shooting. "This is the nature of the dispute, they diss each other."
A private viewing for the family was held on Tuesday night at Harlem's Owens Funeral Home at 216 Malcolm X Blvd.