Wearing a sparkling tiara and carried to her grave in a horse-drawnhearse, little Shamiya Adams was given a burial fit for a princess Saturday.
A week since the 11-year-old was killed by a stray bullet while playing at a West Side sleep over, a thousand mourners gathered to remember the happy girl Shamiya was before she became the latest innocent poster child of Chicago’s chronic gun crime problem.
“Now Shamiya, it’s time for you to go to the front of the class in the best school ever — Heaven University,” Tiffany Tillman, Shamiya’s principal at Melody Elementary School, said at the girl’s funeral at Living Word Christian Center in west suburban Forest Park.
A few feet away, surrounded by flowers, a Hello Kitty adornment and balloons in her favorite shade of green, Shamiya lay in green gown in her bright green coffin.
Dignitaries including Gov. Pat Quinn and a representative of Mayor Rahm Emanuel listened as nearly a dozen speakers used the sad occasion to address the city’s ongoing and senseless gun violence.
But Tillman seemed to capture the essence of a girl who loved to dance and help her mom around the house when she told the mourners that Shamiya was “a beautiful child, a cheerleader, bop queen, peacemaker, respectful to all and most remembered as a best friend.”
Shamiya was generous and had the patience of an adult, she said. She’d sit for hours while her hair was braided and “never complain.”
“You shared every piece of your happiness. You even had to share your birthday with your twin,” Tillman said, as Shamiya’s twin, Jeremiah, looked on.
Nicknamed “Queen” by her grandmother, Shamiya was a keen volunteer who baby sat kindergartners at her school and recently helped raise funds for library books.
Her funeral came just a day after her alleged killer made his first appearance in court, charged with her murder.
Tevin Lee, an 18-year-old gang member, allegedly fired into a crowd of people last Friday afternoon in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. It was retaliation for an earlier fist fight between two 14-year-old boys, police said.
But an errant bullet flew through a window into the home where Shamiya and her friends were preparing to make s’mores during a slumber party in the 3900 block of West Gladys Avenue. The bullet passed through a wall, and struck Shamiya in the head as she sat on the floor.
She died the next day.
“One year it’s Hadiya, the next year it’s Shamiya,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said at the funeral Saturday, referring to Hadiya Pendleton, the innocent 15-year-old whose 2013 murder so shocked Chicago.
Giving a rousing eulogy, the Rev. Oscar Crear, of New Tiberia Baptist Church, then condemned what he called “pandemic street violence.”
“What a tragedy it is that our children cannot come together at a slumber party,” Crear said. “Where little girls are giggling and smiling and telling jokes and braiding hair and doing double Dutch.
“It’s a sad day when our little girls cannot be little girls for fear of stray bullets coming through a window.”
Shamiya’s mom, Shaneetha Goodloe, did not speak at the funeral. She hid her eyes behind sunglasses, leaned on relatives and dabbed her face with tissues as she listed to speaker after speaker remember her joyful daughter.
Jackson said Goodloe recently told him, “You know reverend, when the other peoples’ children were shot, I wept for them. I did not know mine would be next.”
After the two hour ceremony, Goodloe and hundreds of others followed Shamiya’s casket on foot as it was taken about a mile by a horse-drawn hearse to its final resting place at Forest Home Cemetery.
At the grave site, 11 white doves were released, along with the green balloons.
The girl’s mother clung on to her boyfriend and held her hand, with green painted fingernails, to her mouth.