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By Sadef Ali Kully

Hundreds of family, friends and community members gathered at Praise Tabernacle Church on Sutphin Boulevard Saturday to attend funeral services for 16-year old Jihad Jackson, whose shooting on New Year’s Eve in South Jamaica left the community shocked and angry.

Somber, young faces of men and women stood shoulder to shoulder in the back of the church with tear-filled eyes, shocked by the tragic death of their friend who they knew as J-Rock.

A half hour before midnight on the last day of the year, 103rd Precinct police officers found Jihad, who was from Rosedale, at the corner of 109th Avenue and Merrick Boulevard with a gunshot wound to the neck. He was unresponsive, according to police officials, who said emergency responders pronounced Jihad dead at the scene.

Inspector John Cappelman said Jihad had traveled back to his Rosedale home from Washington, D.C., where he had been on a family trip. He stopped over at a friend’s house and hung out with some pals to celebrate the new year when a gun went off and shot him.

“I am 50-something and I have lost a lot people in my life,” Erica Ford, founder of anti-violence community organization LifeCamp, told the congregation at the funeral. “He is in a special place that he will never have to leave—this brother was loved.”

Ford along with hundreds of community members organized a rally Jan.7 to address the gun violence, which has plagued minority neighborhoods within southeast Queens, where Jihad’s death has become a stark example of senseless killings.

During the funeral, Jihad’s grandmother Delores Jackson, alongside his mother, Marguerite Tolson-Jackson, read the last Mother’s Day card she received from her grandson. “I love you so much, I would not be the young man that I am if it wasn’t for you loving me too,”he had written.

Songs were sung and poems were read while his little niece in a floral print gray dress walked up and down the aisle, letting out giggles to cheer up the mourners. The funeral ended with a prayer for the Jackson family. Jihad left behind his parents, four brothers, four sisters and his grandparents.

According to the criminal complaint filed by the Queens district attorney, three suspects were arrested and charged with tampering with evidence—Eduardo Placencia, 18; Natalie Placencia, 49, Eduardo’s mother; and her boyfriend, Dorian Carr, 48.

Police sources said there was evidence from the Placencia home on Merrick Boulevard indicating that after Jihad was shot, he was moved outside, where investigators found a bloody cloth in the bushes.

Investigators have not yet found the gun involved in the shooting, according to Cappelman, and police said the investigation was ongoing.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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