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Emotions run deep at funeral for 7-month-old drive-by victim Ja’Quail Mansaw

Tameka Weatherspoon wore angel wings as she performed a praise dance Saturday at the funeral of 7-month-old Ja’Quail Mansaw at Forest Grove Baptist Church, 1417 N. Ninth St. in Kansas City, Kan. Ja’Quail died after being injured in a drive-by shooting.
Tameka Weatherspoon wore angel wings as she performed a praise dance Saturday at the funeral of 7-month-old Ja’Quail Mansaw at Forest Grove Baptist Church, 1417 N. Ninth St. in Kansas City, Kan. Ja’Quail died after being injured in a drive-by shooting. The Kansas City Star

Ja’Quail Mansaw lay in a white coffin no bigger than a toolbox.

The 7-month-old, who had just gotten his first teeth, wore a plaid shirt and bow tie. A doll in a Santa hat snuggled next to him.

Ja’Quail Da’Juan Lee Mansaw died Jan. 5 after being injured in a drive-by shooting that targeted his family’s home in Kansas City, Kan.

Toward the end of the baby boy’s packed funeral Saturday, which included words about God’s will and Ja’Quail being in Jesus’ arms, the preacher felt it was time to move beyond the sweet talk.

The Rev. Desmond Lamb let loose with a barrage about bullet holes in a door, the shooter who put them there and the “no snitch” rule.

“I refuse to believe that don’t nobody know nothing!” Lamb bellowed in the sanctuary at Forest Grove Baptist Church. “I refuse to believe that nobody don’t know the triggerman.

“You’re all out there on Facebook and Twitter. Somebody knows who did this,” he said.

“If this happened to me, I wouldn’t care if my brother, uncle or cousin did it — I’m calling downtown.”

The crowd had risen to its feet by then, shouting and clapping. Somebody on stage pulled the pulpit back so Lamb wouldn’t knock it over as he stomped about.

“Only a punk needs a pistol!” Lamb railed. “We used to go to the backyard when I was coming up.”

Earlier in the service, Ja’Quail’s mother also asked for help in finding her son’s killer. Ja’Quail’s nickname was “Smoothie,” for his smile.

“They took my baby from me,” Balethia Washington said through tears. “Look at him, you all. I miss him so much. He was only 7 months old and he fought for his last breath.

“I just want to see him smile again.”

The Kansas City, Kan., Police Department’s major case unit has asked anyone with information to call the Tips Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

The shooting was the second at the house in the 2700 block of North Early Street since early December. Someone fired shots into the house, but no one was hit the first time.

In the Jan. 4 incident, Washington told police she had just returned home about 10:30 p.m. when multiple bullets pierced the house. She was holding Ja’Quail when he was struck. She was slightly wounded. Her five other children were also in the house.

An ambulance rushed Ja’Quail to a hospital, but the damage was too great.

“He’s never going to go to kindergarten or learn to ride a bike,” Lamb said. “This isn’t how God intended us to live.

“And it sure ain’t how he intended us to die.”

Those at the funeral donated money Saturday to fix the bullet holes in the house where Ja’Quail lived.

He was at least the fifth child in the Kansas City area to be injured in a drive-by shooting since October. Four have died, including three in Kansas City, Kan.

In October, 6-year-old Angel Hooper was shot to death outside a convenience store in south Kansas City. Two young men later were arrested and charged with murder.

Later that month, 10-year-old Machole Stewart was killed in the 1400 block of New Jersey Avenue in Kansas City, Kan., less than two miles from where Ja’Quail was shot. No arrests have been announced in that case.

Last month, 16-year-old Kahliff Hampton was killed in a drive-by shooting in the 800 block of North 70th Terrace in Kansas City, Kan.

To reach Donald Bradley, call 816-234-4182 or send email to dbradley@kcstar.com.

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