Gentle Giant Laid To Rest

Proud memories overshadowed bitter tears on Tuesday afternoon in the Butler/Goff home just days after the funeral of 24-year-old off-duty Corrections Officer Gregory Goff.
A grief stricken mother, surrounded by her parents who had raised Greg since 1986, just stared ahead, still reeling with disbelief.
"My son was at the wrong place, at the wrong time," Stephanie Stukes told The Queens Courier. She reflected on how the party he attended turned out to be the end of his life when a gunman opened fire in a crowd. Now everywhere she goes she says she just keeps looking for him.
"I was out on the Avenue [Jamaica] with my mother today. We saw a tan Camry just like Gregs and we both jumped."
A December 1999 Newsday profile of then 19-year-old Goff told the story of a second year student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who had won a $5,000 scholarship from Nortel Communications and who worked helping children understand science at the New York Hall of Science. The profile also told of his dream to be involved in law enforcement.
Graduating with a 3.8 GPA, he was no stranger to academic success. Greg had also finished at the head of his class when he graduated from John Adams High School.
"Greg was a great explainer," according to Solomon Butler, the grandfather who had shared everyday of Gregs life with him since the age of 6. "He loved children and loved to teach them things. Sports on the other hand was another thing." Solomon Butler remarked on how John Jay tried to recruit the 64" 250-pound Goff to join thier football team. "Greg just said NO WAY."
But the man who didnt pay much attention to sports devoted his time to many other things.
"The biggest thing in his life was his grandmother," a neighbor told The Queens Courier about Gregs feelings for his grandmother, Mildred Butler. "He just loved that woman in a special way. Not that he didnt love everybody, but he just loved her special."
In fact, special is the word most people associate with Gregory Goff. "Everybody loved Greg," his mother said. "Not because hes my son, but because its true."
Sharon Stukes words were reinforced by the crowds that filled Crowes Funeral Home and the funeral service at the Burns Memorial Church of God in Christ. "You could just feel the love in that roomall for Greg."
The man who touched lives wherever he went was always thought of as a positive role model in the community, at his church and by co-workers at every job he ever held.
"My daughter was his mother, but Greg was my baby, my sweetheart," said Mildred Butler. She went on to say that for a couple of days before his death, Greg spent a lot of time calling old friends just to say hi.
On Friday afternoon, he took her shopping, as he so often did. She recollected that he held her arm as they walked along the avenue.
"I remember thinking to myself that was a little peculiar because he never really did that. We went out to get him a new outfit for the party that night."
He had picked out a shirt, a hat and some new boots. Mildred had gone next door to look at some furniture. "I was looking around, and the next thing I knew the man from the clothing store was calling me back there. "Come on, Grandma," he said, "You know this boy wont buy nothing without youre approval."
Mildred recounted that Greg laid on her bed with his dog Coco for most of the rest of the day. "Gregory," I said, "what is wrong with you? What are you still doing in my room?"
"I just want to be near you," he replied.
The whole family remarked on how strange it was that Greg was discussing things he never did before. He gave his mother the code to his phone and his computer.
"It was almost like he knew something was going to happen," Solomon Butler said.
Just a couple of weeks before, Greg had driven his grandmother over to the area around Rosedale to look at some of the new ranch homes that were being built there.
"Grandma, I am going to get one of these for you and Pops, and me and my mom. Were going to live here now. I promise," he said.
That is a promise that was stopped short by 27-year-old Derrick Coleman who has now been charged with second-degree murder. Coleman fired into the crowd after arguing with another man over his dancing with a woman. Coleman dropped the gun when another patron jumped on him, but his brother, Todd Coleman, picked up the gun and continued firing. Todd Coleman is presently being sought by police.
As for the familys feeling on the Coleman brothers, Mildred Butler looked up at her grandsons picture and said, "I will not rest until they are brought to justice. If I am 86 years old when it happens I dont care, but it is my intention to see justice for Greg. And if I am not here, someone else will make sure it happens.
Sharon Stukes also spoke of justice for her son. "My anger is very deep and we all have a void in our lives that will never be filled. I would have nothing to say to these men. For the one that is still on the street I think it would be safer for him to turn himself in. He has no idea how many people are looking for him."
The family says they dont know how they will go on. We will always be waiting for my baby to come back," said Mildred Butler.
But the reality for the broken hearted family is that their gentle giant wont be home again.

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