The visitation line wound around the sidewalk as hundreds of people gathered Saturday afternoon at Relentless Church to highlight the short life of Jamari “Mari” Cortez Bonaparte Jackson, a 12-year-old boy who was killed in a school shooting last week.
Jamari died after being shot at Tanglewood Middle School on March 31, allegedly by another 12-year-old student.
A montage of photos and videos showing Mari, as they called him, on the playground and playing basketball played as friends and families walked by to say their last farewells. He was shown holding his sister’s hand as they ran on the beach toward the ocean, driving go karts and bashfully hiding from the camera as preteens are prone to do.
The tapestry on the interior of Jamari’s casket was printed with his name, a recent Christmas photo and the dates of the child’s first and last breath.
May 18, 2009 – March 31, 2022.
“He was 12 and here we are talking about him in the past tense,” said Relentless pastor John Gray.
Family and friends wore red, some with the buffalo-check pattern the family wore in their Christmas pictures that now memorialize Jamari, to honor the child who carried a goofy personality and a love of dogs.
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A Relentless minister read Bible verses as Jamari’s family members took turns stooping over the casket to kiss his head or hold his hands one last time. They held one another tightly, rubbing backs and wiping tears, wailing as the child-sized casket was closed.
His fifth-grade teacher, Emily Everard, commented on how many boys his age were “too cool” to be seen with their younger siblings, yet Jamari happily walked with his younger sister and loudly told her to have a good day.
Everard admitted he was a favorite student of hers, known for his kindness to special-needs students.
His family members said he was a young man of his word who would follow through on whatever he set his mind to, whether that was improving his grades or helping around the house.
Gray called Jamari a baby denied the chance to grow up, despite how quickly his height overtook his mother’s.
Yet, even in a time of political, racial and socioeconomic; ic division, the young man brought people together, Gray said.
The pastor called on those in attendance to break the cycle of violence and make positive changes in their life in Jamari’s name.
“This young man just brought people from every walk of life into one room at one time.” Gray said at the service. And he did more to bring healing to this community by the release his spirit back to God than most people will do in a lifetime. To say that 12 years was not enough misses the power of what this moment represents. Twelve years was more than enough to change the world if you let him change you. “
The 12-year-old accused of killing Jamari was arrested at a home near the school shortly after the shooting in the middle of the school day. He is charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession of a firearm on school property and unlawful possession of a weapon by a person under the age of 18, and he remains in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia.
A press release from the Pizarro Law Firm of Summerville that was shared Saturday by a family spokesperson indicated that Jamari’s family has enlisted the firm to help “navigate the intricacies related to Mari’s passing.”
“They ask for your continued prayers of comfort in the coming weeks as they are left to fully embrace a new normal without their beloved Mari,” the press release reads. The loss of any loved one or relative brings a pain that only time can heal, but the loss of a twelve year old child brings a heartache that is unfathomable and overwhelming. The circumstances of Mari’s passing only add to the grief that his family is facing.
“As the family moves forward in this process, they ask for peace and privacy while they allow the system to work. We look forward to meeting with law enforcement and prosecuting authorities in the coming week, and we are committed to keeping the community apprised.” developments in this case. “
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