Relatives, friends, local politicians, clergy and strangers alike gathered on Saturday (Jan. 6) to mourn the untimely deaths of the victims of the brutal quadruple homicide that took place in upstate New York, with the tragedy touching hearts across the nation and drawing sympathy from the likes of the Rev. Al Sharpton and activist Tamika Mallory.
As previously reported, Shanta Myers, 36, her partner Brandi Mells, 22, and two of Myers' three children, Jeremiah "J.J." Myers, 11 and Shanise Myers, 5, were found slain in their basement apartment in Troy the day after Christmas (Dec. 26), with prosecutors later arresting two men in conjunction with the savage and senseless crime. Myers' eldest son, Isaiah Smith, 15, was out of town for a basketball tournament at the time of the slayings.
The day prior to the emotive memorial service, the local court's grand jury indicted suspects James W. White, 38, and Justin C. Mann, 24, on 13 counts of murder and four other counts related to the heinous kilings.
As members of the local clergy called for the packed auditorium of Troy Middle School to transform into a sanctuary, the love for life was universally felt, taking on several forms throughout the near three-hour long tribute.
Throughout the service, the Tri City Choir showcased their powerful voices alongside a live band, performing a varied selection that inspired the audience to clap and cheer from their seats. Princess Good shared a prayer of comfort, local poet Danielle Charlestin recited an original work and Alexionah Duncan performed a choreographed dance to the song, "He's Concerned," by CeCe Winans.
As exemplified throughout each and every speech given by a variety of mourners and community leaders, J.J., Shanise and Shanta all positively influenced many, with Superintendent John Carmello referring to the two children as "a shining light to everyone, not just those who were close to them, not just all of us in this room, but to each and every person they came in contact with."
Jerry Ford, of the Troy Boys and Girls Club, also spoke during the service, reflecting on J.J.'s eagerness to get involved with the organization, of which he was a member for six years.
"When this happened, it just rocked all of our worlds," Ford, whose son brought the audience to tears with his touching commentary about his friend and teammate J.J., shared with REVOLT TV. "But I feel like in the spirit of the Myers family that we will be very resilient and we will bounce back and we will respond to this tragic incident with love."
Ford also spoke about what the community can do in the wake of this tragedy, reiterating the importance of speaking out against injustice, no matter the scale.
"Where do we go from here? We organize from here, man. That's what we do, we organize," he continued. "We bring our young people together, we bring our community together, we bring our leaders together, we bring our faith community together, we bring our non-profits together and we organize. We get stronger and we speak out on every instance, every chance that we see that something ain't right, we speak out and we do something. It's just like that motto in New York City, 'See something, say something,' but we're gonna see something and we're gonna do something. That's what we are gonna do."
In addition to crowdsourcing over $48,000 via GoFundMe to support Smith, those in attendance also vowed to protect the teenager and guide him through this trying time, with the men in the crowd specifically standing to show their solitary.
As our hearts are with the Myers family, we remember the boundless impact Shanta, J.J. and Shanise had on the Capital Region and beyond, as exemplified in the video above.