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.
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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.
“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.”
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, (from right) brother Jamal Davis, parents Juanita and Theodore ‘Teddy’ Trent and sister Jennifer Davis at Saturday’s wake and funeral mass.