Family mourns death of young man killed in Bayview violence

His young face appeared on white sweatshirts and long dresses. His name was scrawled in curved lettering on the back of white coats. And the matter-of-fact dates of his short life were printed in black numerals on the clothes of mourners.

As San Franciscans from Pacific Heights to the Inner Sunset went about their business Tuesday, in one corner of The City, a family mourned the violent death of 18-year-old Jesse Edwards Jr.

Edwards died with Carl Bradley, 27, on Aug. 10 when someone started shooting at the pair as they rode dirt bikes on La Salle Avenue. In flight, one of them was struck and the pair crashed.

Edwards' violent and seemingly random death and his Tuesday funeral were reminders that gun violence is very much a reality in Bayview-Hunters Point and likely won't come to an end anytime soon.

Outside of the white stucco Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church on Third Street on Tuesday morning, the white and red funeral garb of mourners crowded the parking lot and front drive of the church with a lively contrast as they waited for the procession.

By 11 a.m., the procession began. A group of young men in white tails, shinny white shoes and gloves preceded young and middle-aged women in red skirts and high heels, as a few older women with gallant hats peppered the rest of the large crowd.

At the head of the chapel, inside a closed white coffin topped with flowers, lay Edwards.

The details of the funeral were akin to most funerals: prayers, song, cries of pain, tears. But that is where the similarities ended because most of the people in the large, bright church had been to similar funerals for family members who had died violently like Edwards.

“You didn't do anything to have your life end this way,” said Edwards' mother, Tanesha Jackson, reading a letter from Edwards' father, who could not make the funeral because he is in prison.

Others spoke of the last time they had seen Edwards, either on Third Street or riding his dirt bike or passing a few words of hello.

But many at the service spoke of their own family members who had also died violently.

Michelle Daniels, a family friend, said that many of the people in the audience very much understood the travails of Edwards' family.

And many have been left to guess who might have killed their family members since so few of the area's murders are solved, she said: “So you have rooms full of people like this who don't have answers.”

Several years ago, Daniels' son-in-law was shot in the middle of his forehead, execution-style, she said. Police didn't solve the crime but later called her to say the person they suspected in the case had also been killed.

As for the Edwards case, police have no suspects. But as the hearse headed away from the church Tuesday, a Police Department patrol car stood watch. The two officers inside said they usually come to funerals of shooting victims just in case something happens.

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