Slain 5-Year-Old Mourned At Oakland Funeral

OAKLAND (KCBS)—Mourners overflowed St. Elizabeth Church in Oakland for the funeral of Gabriel Martinez Jr., the five-year-old shot and killed near his parents’ taco truck on International Boulevard last week.

The shooting that occurred last Friday in East Oakland was the third since August to have claimed the life of a child simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Hundreds gathered Friday, including Mayor Jean Quan, for the little boy’s funeral at the church near 34th Avenue, near International Boulevard.

Several of those in attendance were the child’s kindergarten classmates from Otis Elementary in Alameda.

Sarita Panngasiri’s kids were some of those classmates and she struggles to explain Gabriel’s death to them.

“They ask why, and I’m like, we can’t answer that, you know? It’s just heartbreaking,” said the concerned mother.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Deirdre Freeman, another classmate’s parent of Gabrielito’s, said that he was quiet, but happy and full of promise like the other two little boys that were killed in recent months.

“I think we need to band together as a community— not just in Oakland and start to do something about this violence. It’s just a very small percentage of the community that’s committing violent acts and it’s affecting everybody,” said Freeman.

Police believe Gabriel was not the intended target of the gunman.

A $25,000 reward is being offered by the Oakland Police Department and Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the shooting.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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