Remembering 12-year-old John Cooksey

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Hundreds gathered at Jonesville Baptist Church Tuesday morning to celebrate and remember the life of 12-year-old John Cooksey.

Just a day before Valentine's Day, several talked of focusing on love instead of hate.

Cooksey was shot and killed when a fight broke out at a funeral in Savannah on Feb. 3. Strangers, as well as people who knew him, came to show their love and support.

"Who's got John's back? We've got John's back. Who's got John's back? We've got John's back. We love you, John John."

"I just want to say I love you, John."

Many reflected on the young boy and his big ambitions. His football coach remembered how John's quick speed helped the Savannah Hurricanes win their first game. His minister said he had a strong connection to his faith, going to church every Sunday.

"She said at the age of six, John told her he wanted to be saved, and she asked him, 'what do you know about being saved?' He said, 'from our conversation, I just feel it,' the preacher said.

The family wore red and white in honor of John. Speakers talked about how strong the family has been, especially John's mother.

"This young lady here is the epitome of what a parent should be."

The service focused on John with singing and dancing, but it also touched on the larger picture.

"This is the third young person that I have visited or funeralized in the last 12 months. It makes no sense and it has to stop."

"The devil will not win. He will not divide this city any longer. We will not hate anybody."

The minister said the family's message during the service was to use Cooksey's legacy to make a difference in gun violence.

"Enough is enough. The gun violence has got to stop. Kids don't need guns and adults really got to stop. How are the kids getting the guns? It's gotta be from an adult. We've got to stop. We have to really come together as a community. We've got to come together. It doesn't matter about race. It doesn't matter about anything. We all have to come together as people," said Todd Rhodes, Minister at Jonesville Baptist Church. "We have to get involved with the youth in our community - teaching them things like, 'guess what? It's not about going to prison, it's not about getting put on a T-shirt, it's not about getting put in the grave at an early age. It's about really living and being a productive citizen and really being the best person you can be - the very best person."

The family let media attend the funeral, but understandably, they did not want anyone talking to us on camera.

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