Dozens of photographs of birthdays, basketball games and graduations greeted mourners at the entrance of the tightly packed St. Paul Church on Tuesday, but all eyes were affixed on the caskets ahead of them, grave reminders that three lives were taken from a San Francisco family.
A crowd of more than 1,200 people, made up of family members, friends, teammates and political dignitaries, showed up to pay their respects to Tony Bologna, 48, and his two sons, Michael 20, and Matthew, 16, who were fatally shot by a suspected gang member following a traffic incident June 22.
At the 97-year-old Catholic institution on Church and Valley streets, every seat in the building was taken 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the service at 11 a.m.
After nearly 90 minutes of formal Catholic funeral proceedings, Danielle Bologna, widow of Anthony Bologna and mother of the two slain sons, gave a brief, but emotional plea for justice near the coffins.
“This is a tragedy that can happen to any family, so we must pull together,” Bologna said. “We don’t want to be angry people and let this thing win us, but we do want justice to prevail. I will not rest until it’s done.”
Shortly following her speech, Bologna walked behind the procession of the three caskets, each draped in white fabric and carried out to the piano ruminations of Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Hundreds of high-school-aged students were at the funeral to show solidarity to Danielle Bologna’s middle son, a recent graduate of Lincoln High School.
Danielle Bologna, who publicly appealed last week for the death penalty for Edwin Ramos, 21, the El Sobrante man accused of the triple-murder, did not elaborate afterward if her call for justice at the funeral signified support for capital punishment. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has vowed in the past to never pursue the death penalty.
“What I said is what I meant,” Danielle Bologna told The Examiner. “I’ll leave it at that.”
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom attended a portion of the funeral, opting to stand discreetly at the back of the packed church.
“My heart goes out to the family,” Newsom said.
Ramos, who police say is a member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 gang, is scheduled to appear in court on July 3, where he is expected to plead not guilty to the charges levied against him.