02/04/13 1:51pm
02/04/2013 1:51 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Demitri Hampton's friends and family give a standing ovation for his mother, Juanita Trent, during Monday's memorial service.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Demitri Hampton’s friends and family give a standing ovation for his mother, Juanita Trent, during Monday’s memorial service.

James Banks stood before the crowd in the large lecture hall and spoke about biblical heroes like Moses, and how the Bible says they lived hundreds of years.

“It took them all those years to be recognized as heroes,” Mr. Banks said. “But our Demitri, he became a hero at 21.”

Nearly 100 people packed an auditorium at the Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus on Monday morning to celebrate the life of Demitri Hampton, the young man killed in a Flanders home invasion last week.

Mr. Hampton was shot in the chest trying to protect his girlfriend and family from masked intruders.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | James Banks comforts Evelyn Carrasquillo after she sang a Whitney Houston song in Demitri Hampton's memory.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | James Banks comforts Evelyn Carrasquillo after she sang a Whitney Houston song in Demitri Hampton’s memory.

Mr. Banks, the coordinator of multi-cultural affairs at the school who worked with Mr. Hampton in a volunteer group, lead the ceremony.

Many of Mr. Hampton’s relatives and classmates spoke as well.

The crowd laughed as people told stories about how Mr. Hampton would joke around — then cried during songs sung in his honor at the event.

Around the room, small corkboard displays showed Mr. Hampton smiling in family photos.

Mr. Hampton’s mother, Juanita Trent, thanked the crowd for their support and urged them not to turn their back on their faith in the wake of tragedy.

“I want you all to know that I didn’t cry my last tear, but I’m at peace, because I know the God I serve, he’s going to carry us through,” Ms. Trent said. “I’m not about the vengeance. God has given me strength.”

Mourners gave her a standing ovation after her speech.

RELATED: Demitri Hampton was the best kind of person

Frances Acevedo, Mr. Hampton’s girlfriend, spoke at the service and read from poems she wrote about Mr. Hampton after his death.

“I cry, hold my head up high, and look to the sky, and say see you later, because I know it’s not goodbye,” Ms. Acevedo said. After reading her poems, she walked over to where she was sitting next to Mr. Hampton’s family members and embraced them.

Jason Sims, Mr. Hampton’s closest friends, said the two were “like two peas in a pod.”

He told the crowd they would often talk about their futures and how to better themselves.

“[Demitri] always said, ‘Yo Sims. I want to try to make it. I don’t want to die a nobody,’ ” Mr. Sims said. “I just wish I could tell him he didn’t die a nobody.

“He died my best friend, a good person.”

psquire@timesreview.com

A funeral for Demitri Hampton was held Saturday in Riverside

02/02/13 6:00pm
02/02/2013 6:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |  Pallbearers carrying the casket out of the Galilee Church of God in Christ Saturday.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Pallbearers carrying the casket out of Galilee Church of God in Christ Saturday.

“There is a little more joy in heaven this morning.”

Those were the words offered by a loving uncle, saying goodbye to his nephew, far too soon.

More than 400 mourners filled the Galilee Church of God in Christ Saturday to celebrate the life of 21-year-old Demitri Hampton, who was shot and killed early this past Sunday.

“If you look around this room, you can see the testament to who my nephew was,” said Mr. Hampton’s uncle, Tom.

Mr. Hampton will best be remembered for his “love, laughter, courage and swag,” said Mr. Hampton’s aunt, Jackie. “He enjoyed bringing laughter to every family occasion,” and when the family would join in song, he would sing all the wrong words, always looking for a laugh, she said.

RELATED: Family, friends remember Demitri on social media

As Mr. Hampton played video games around 3 a.m. Jan. 27, two armed men broke through the front door of his cousin’s Priscilla Avenue home in Flanders. Determined to protect his sleeping girlfriend and family, he fought with the intruders and was shot in his chest. He later died at Peconic Bay Medical Center. No arrests have been made and Suffolk County detectives are still investigating.

“It is not wrong to try and protect the house,” said pastor Roy Pennon, speaking to Mr. Hampton’s courage that night.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |  Demitri Hampton's cousin Latisha Diego (center) is helped by other mourners as she goes up to view the casket for the final time before it is closed.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Demitri Hampton’s cousin Latisha Diego (center) is helped by other mourners as she goes up to view the casket for the final time before it is closed.

“We are praying for you, and pray for our president, that he can get this gun thing under control,” said pastor T.J. Williams Jr., Mr. Hampton’s childhood pastor from First Church of Christ in Bridgehampton, referring to the “senseless” way Mr. Hampton was killed.

“You raised a good child, on his way to great things,” pastor Williams added. Mr. Hampton, a Riverhead High School alum, was scheduled to graduate Suffolk County Community College in May 2013.

“Honor him by living a life of value, with integrity,” Mr. Hampton’s uncle said. “Get your education and keep God first.”

With tear-filled eyes, and love-filled hearts Mr. Hampton’s mother, Juanita Trent, and father Theodore “Teddy” Trent, listened while assistant pastor Byron Preston delivered a eulogy, bringing them, and the rest of the church to its feet, in celebration of Mr. Hampton’s life.

As the sun shined brightly through church windows, the choir sang “Soon and Very Soon.” Six pallbearers carried Mr. Hampton’s coffin down the church aisle.

“He was just a real asset to the community and always made his parents proud. And he is going to be missed,” said Sandra Richards, whose son was close friends with Mr. Hampton. “People don’t realize the ripple effect that happens when you take a life. It’s not just family, it’s friends, the whole community.”

Mike Heigh, who has known Mr. Hampton since he was little, said to remember Demitri’s smile and laughter.

“On a rainy day, he is the sun trying to break though,” Mr. Heigh said. “At the point that the sun actually comes through — that’s him, that’s Demitri.”

cmiller@timesreview.com

Note: A Memorial Service will be held at Suffolk County Community College’s eastern campus on Monday at 11 a.m. and is open to all.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |  Demitri Hampton's family in the front row: (from right) brother Jamal Davis, parents Juanita and Theodore 'Teddy' Trent, and sister Jennifer Davis.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Demitri Hampton’s family, (from right) brother Jamal Davis, parents Juanita and Theodore ‘Teddy’ Trent and sister Jennifer Davis at Saturday’s wake and funeral mass.

 

02/02/13 3:04pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |  Demitri's best friend Jason Sims gets a hug from friend Wayne Rennalls of Mastic Beach Saturday afternoon.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Demitri’s best friend Jason Sims gets a hug from friend Wayne Rennalls of Mastic Beach Saturday afternoon.

As Demitri Hampton was laid to rest Saturday, friends and family shared memories and expressed their sympathy via social media. Here are some of those comments:


02/02/13 10:54am
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |  A long line of mourners arrived early Saturday at Galiee First Church of God in Christ.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A long line of mourners arrived early Saturday at Galilee First Church of God in Christ.

Mourners arrived early Saturday morning, forming a line outside Galilee First Church of God in Christ, to pay their respects to Demitri Hampton, a 21-year-old Riverhead graduate shot dead in his home last week.

The wake began at 10 a.m. and a funeral mass was to follow at 11 a.m.

The funeral director from Brockett Funeral Home said people were lined up when he arrived at 9:15 a.m. this morning.

Check back this afternoon for more coverage.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO |  Mourners wait outside Galilee First Church of God in Christ Saturday morning.

01/31/13 9:31pm
01/31/2013 9:31 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Mourners clung to one another for support during Thursday night's vigil for Demitri Hampton in Riverhead.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Mourners clung to one another for support during Thursday night’s vigil for Demitri Hampton in Riverhead.

Riverhead school superintendent Nancy Carney’s voice shook with emotion as she spoke about the Riverhead High School graduate killed in a Flanders home invasion earlier this week.

“There was so much in front of Demitri, but he also has left us with so much,” she said to the group of mourners.

Hundreds of friends and family gathered on a windy Thursday evening to remember 21-year-old Demitri Hampton at a candlelight vigil held in front of Riverhead High School.

Mr. Hampton was shot and killed after two armed masked men burst into his cousin’s house early Sunday night, police said. Suffolk County detectives are still investigating the crime.

Ms. Carney told the crowd to learn from Mr. Hampton’s example and “cherish each and every day.” She urged those gathered to work to stop violent crimes in town to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again.

“We have to join together to stop violence in this community,” Ms. Carney pleaded. “This tragedy has affected everybody in not only the school community but the entire Riverhead community. This has to stop. We can’t allow this here.”

The crowd of friends and former classmates bowed their heads in a moment of silence for Mr. Hampton during the vigil.

Others spoke about Mr. Hampton, and how he affected their lives. Riverhead High School principal David Wicks said it was Mr. Hampton’s sense of humor that stood out.

“I will always remember Demitri for his smile, for his ability to make me laugh,” he said. “I’m having a smile about him right now just thinking about him.”

Elder Albert Brown of the Galilee Church of God in Christ in Riverhead said a prayer at the ceremony.

“We do thank God for the life of Demitrius Hampton, the love, the friendship, the joy and the laughter that he brought to those who knew and loved him,” Elder Brown said. “Certainly our lives were enriched by his life.”

psquire@timesreview.com

01/31/13 3:00pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |  Demitri Hampton's sister Jennifer Davis (left), brother Jamal Davis and first cousin Latisha Diego with photos of Demitri, who appeared on the cover of a Suffolk Community College campus magazine in 2012, during a meeting with reporters in Polish Town Tuesday.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Demitri Hampton’s sister Jennifer Davis (left), brother Jamal Davis and first cousin Latisha Diego with photos of Demitri, who appeared on the cover of a Suffolk Community College campus magazine in 2012, during a meeting with reporters in Polish Town Tuesday.

Latisha Diego said the masked men who burst into her home on Priscilla Avenue in Flanders never demanded her money or possessions. At one point, they pointed a gun at her in her bedroom and ordered her not to move. Most of her family was asleep when the men broke in. But her younger cousin, Demitri Hampton, was awake playing video games, she said.

When Demitri confronted the intruders, they shot him.

“The next thing I know he’s running in and he’s telling me to call the police,” she said. “And he’s shot and he’s bleeding.”

Ms. Diego says the men could have taken anything they wanted in the house. Instead, they took her cousin.

“The only thing they took out of the house that night was his life, and that was the most valuable thing in there,” Ms. Diego said, holding back tears.

Friends and family are in mourning after the killing of 21-year-old Demitri Hampton, a Riverhead High School graduate and outgoing college student gunned down in a home invasion early Sunday.

RELATED: Candlelight vigil scheduled for Thursday night

RELATED: Demitri Hampton was the best type of person

The break-in occurred about 3 a.m. when two armed masked men broke through the front door of Ms. Diego’s house, family members said. A struggle ensued near the kitchen after Mr. Hampton confronted the intruders.

“There was a struggle and he was shot during the struggle,” said Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commander of the Suffolk County Homicide Squad.

The men quickly fled the scene. Mr. Hampton had been shot in the chest and was rushed to Peconic Bay Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Detectives said they are investigating the killing and have made no arrests in the case. Police have asked anyone with information on the crime to call 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential, police said.

Family members said Mr. Hampton was a “good, good kid,” a jokester who always tried to get a laugh and cheer others up.

COURTESY PHOTO  |  Juanita Trent with Demitri Hampton this past Mother's Day.

COURTESY PHOTO | Juanita Trent with Demitri Hampton this past Mother’s Day.

Just before the attack, Ms. Diego, Mr. Hampton and his girlfriend, Frances Acevedo, had spent Saturday afternoon and evening watching movies together on Ms. Diego’s bed, quoting lines from a comedy flick while joking and talking about their futures.

They talked about the lottery and what they’d do with the millions of dollars if they won. Mr. Hampton had a list of people he’d give money to if he won the lottery to help them “make it.”

“We had a lot of good times,” Ms. Diego said. “A lot of good times.”

Mr. Hampton was the “baby” of the family, the youngest of his siblings and cousins for quite some time. Ms. Diego said he was a determined young man whose family was always there to help.

Mr. Hampton was there for them, too, she said. He’d make jokes and dance around to cheer them up or offer words of encouragement when they needed comfort.

“He’d always say ‘It’s gonna be OK. I know you’re going to do it,’” Ms. Diego said.

During a meeting with reporters Tuesday, family members recalled how much he loved lima beans — he would eat the home-cooked beans for a week straight — and how he adored his 1992 Lincoln Town Car, which he dubbed Felicia.

The windows didn’t work on the car, the grill was missing and the key was stuck in the ignition, they said. But that didn’t stop Mr. Hampton and his closest friend Jason Sims from spray painting the rims to “touch up” the car, Ms. Diego said. He would often crack that if he ever made it rich, Felicia was coming with him.

It’s that sense of humor that friends and family said they’ll miss the most.

“Demitri was the kind of person who would make you laugh when you were in a bad mood,” said his friend Edwin Perry. “He always joked around and had something funny to say. I never really saw him a bad mood.”

At his former high school, classmates and teachers were stunned by the news of his death.

“He was only three years out,” said Riverhead High School principal David Wicks. “I’m still in shock.”

The high school will host a candlelight vigil for Mr. Hampton, a 2010 graduate, at 6 p.m. Thursday. The vigil is open to all and mourners are asked to bring candles to light.

Suffolk County Community College, where Mr. Hampton was studying criminal justice, will also hold a memorial for him at 11 a.m. next Monday morning, Feb. 3.

This spring was supposed to be Mr. Hampton’s last semester at Suffolk County Community College, Ms. Acevedo said. He was thinking of joining the Air Force or applying to Mercy College to further his education.

Now, his family is left to ponder what could have been for a life that long held so much promise.

“I won’t ever get to see him get married someday,” said his sister, Jennifer Davis, tears streaming down her face. “It was senseless to take his life … They took his future from him, and that’s not fair.”

A wake and funeral services for Mr. Hampton will be held Saturday morning, according to Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton.

The services will be held at Galiee First Church of God in Christ, 87 Old Quogue Road, in Riverhead. The wake is set for 10 a.m., with a funeral mass at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Southampton Cemetery. His family plans to establish a scholarship in his name.

Mr. Hampton, who always had a positive attitude, wouldn’t want others to be upset, one of his cousins said.

“Demitri always said that he wanted [us] to have a party [if he died],” said Neko Gettling. “ ‘I don’t want nobody crying, I don’t want none of that. I want to have a party.’ ”

But for a close-knit family that lost a brother, a cousin and a son — and now a hero who fought to protect his family — that wish is hard to grant.

“Demitri, that was our baby,” Ms. Davis said, sobbing. “I didn’t have him, but that was my baby, that was my baby.”

psquire@timesreview.com

01/31/13 2:59pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Demitri Hampon appeared on the cover of a Suffolk County Community College campus magazine in 2012.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Demitri Hampton appeared on the cover of a Suffolk County Community College campus magazine in 2012. He would have graduated this spring.

The extended family had already suffered a big blow two years ago, when grandma died. She was the rock who for so long seemed to hold everything together. But during those trying times of late 2011, as the first holidays without her approached and a long winter set in, everyone had Demitri to lift their spirits

Michael White

Michael White

Never too far away, the then-teenager could make for a moment of levity during any time of despair, and by any means necessary. That meant he wasn’t above donning a wig or a skirt, or randomly spraying himself with air freshener. He was also prone to rolling on the floor in fits of laughter. With Demitri around, you couldn’t help but smile and forget whatever pain you might feel.

“I don’t think I would have been able to get through Grandma’s passing without Demitri,” said one of his cousin’s, Fawn Gettling.

“He always lived on a positive note” and was never in a bad mood, explained another cousin, Latisha Diego.

That’s the cruel irony behind Demitri Hampton’s death during a home invasion early Sunday in Flanders. His personality and positive outlook is exactly what his family and the rest of his loved ones need most right now.

And they are at an utter loss to imagine how, exactly, they will manage without him.

Demitri had the misfortune of being awake and playing video games when two armed men broke through the front door of the Priscilla Avenue house at 3 a.m. Determined to protect his sleeping girlfriend and family, he had fought with the intruders before he was shot in his chest and later died at Peconic Bay Medical Center. No one else was hurt before the suspects fled.

“He will forever be a hero,” said his sister, Jennifer Davis. “There won’t ever be a time when I won’t miss my little brother.”

For Ms. Gettling, she believes her loss is the gain of her grandfather, who died in 2004, and grandmother.

“The thing that I keep saying to my brother, and I keep in my brain, is that he was always doing whatever he could to keep my grandma laughing,” she said. “I believe that he’s in heaven making my grandma and my grandfather laugh hysterically, so they’re up there cracking up.

“So that helps a little bit.”

Demitri was hardly a do-nothing prankster though; he had big dreams and he was working toward achieving them.

Whether it was going to be through acting, modeling, comedy, a college degree or the Air Force, the charismatic young man had been intent on becoming “somebody,” as his relatives said. Just the type of person who usually makes it in this world.

But he wanted to help others just as much as he wanted to help himself, performing small, heroic acts long before his death.

“He was very encouraging,” said Ms. Diego, recalling the hours before his death, as the two shared some of their hopes and plans for the future as they watched movies on her king-sized bed. “He was saying, ‘It’s gonna be OK. It’s gonna be OK. I know you’re going to do it.’ ”

“He had that ‘no man left behind’ type of mentality,” added his cousin Neko Gettling. “He believed that if he could make it, everybody else could too.”

That showed through his extracurricular activities at Riverhead High School and the middle school, where he volunteered for seven years with the Council for Unity anti-gang group. Then, at Suffolk County Community College, he served as a mentor and role model through the Black Male Network, a newly founded student club devoted to encouraging high school students to go to college.

Basically, his family and friends explained, he had a simple message to high school kids: “I’m going to college; and so can you.”

That’s the other irony in Demitri Hampton’s tragic death. What’s almost certain is that these killers — whose race or ethnicity is unknown — were at some point the type of at-risk youths Demitri had always sought to help through his volunteer work. Had they all met in another time and place, Demitri might have taken them under his wing to get them on the right track.

In killing him, they not only brought unspeakable grief upon his friends and family, but theirs as well, as they will surely be caught and wind up spending decades in prison. During that time, they’ll get to reflect not only Demitri and his shortened life, but the lives of all those other souls he never got the chance to help.

Michael White is the editor of the Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at 631-298-3200, ext. 152 or mwhite@timesreview.com.

01/29/13 5:23pm
01/29/2013 5:23 PM

TRACEY CRUMP COURTESY PHOTO | Demitri Hampton celebrates receiving his diploma from Riverhead High School during the school’s 2010 graduation ceremony. Mr. Hampton was killed Sunday after confronting burglars in his home.

As friends mourn the loss of the outgoing 21-year-old college student killed Sunday morning in a Flanders home invasion, a candlelight vigil and memorial services have been planned to honor the young man.

And the victim’s family members say they plan to set up a scholarship in his honor in the coming days.

Riverhead High School will host a candlelight vigil for Demitri Hampton, a 2010 graduate of the school, at 6 p.m. Thursday. The vigil is open to all, said Theresa Drozd, one of Mr. Hampton’s former teachers at the school.

The memorial will be held in front of the high school and mourners are asked to bring their own candles. A deacon from Demitri’s church will speak at the vigil, and a member of the church will sing, said district superintendent Nancy Carney.

“Any death is a tragedy, particularly one that is as untimely and premature as that of Demitri Hampton,” Ms. Carney said. “My heart goes out to his family and his friends for their loss.”

Mr. Hampton was very involved with Council for Unity at the school, Ms. Drozd said, and was a member of the basketball and track teams. Ms. Drozd said Mr. Hampton always made those around him laugh.

“Whenever you were around him you couldn’t be angry because he always put a smile on your face,” she said. “Everybody loved him. You had to love him.”

Mr. Hampton was a student at Suffolk County Community College, his family said. He was majoring in criminal justice and was planning to graduate in the spring, then pursue more studies or join the air force.

School officials say Mr. Hampton was involved on campus as well, serving as a mentor and role model to young men through the Black Male Network, a student group devoted to encouraging high schoolers to go to college.

His service and dedication made him a perfect example of what school administrators wanted in a student, said Evon Walters, executive dean and campus CEO for the eastern campus.

“Demitri was a reflection of what we try to articulate on a day-to-day basis,” Mr. Walters said.

The college will hold a memorial service for Mr. Hampton at 11 a.m. Monday at the Eastern Campus. The ceremony will include video and photo collages of Mr. Hampton and will let students mourn and share their memories of the young man, officials said.

At the same time, Mr. Hampton’s family is planning to use savings to start a scholarship fund in his name.

Jamal Davis, Mr. Hampton’s older brother, said the family is working on the scholarship this week, adding that he hopes to have the program finalized in the next few days.

Read more about  Demitri Hampton’s life in this week’s Riverhead News-Review.