Editor’s Word: This story is a part of a sequence profiling American youth killed this yr by weapons, a number one reason behind demise of youngsters within the US. Learn extra concerning the venture right here.
Eric Gregory Brown III handled each room like a stage. At all times prepared to bounce and carry out, he moved quick and used phrases too massive for a 12-year-old to know.
Like an previous soul born to be a star, Eric cherished to entertain and convey smiles to everybody round him – and all the time discovered an adoring viewers in his household, mentioned Mary Joseph, Eric’s grandaunt.
“God knew that he would solely have 12 years, however we didn’t,” Joseph mentioned.
Extra about Eric
Eric was killed on Might 9 in Lengthy Seaside, California, when somebody in an approaching automotive shot him and fired at two different kids as they had been strolling in a residential neighborhood, in accordance with Lengthy Seaside police. His good friend, a 14-year-old woman he typically met with after college, was wounded.
Two folks had been arrested in July in reference to the drive-by capturing, police mentioned. Every was charged that month with offenses together with homicide and tried homicide, courtroom paperwork present.
Police haven’t any motive to consider the suspects knew the youngsters, and investigators consider the capturing stemmed from “an earlier gang altercation not involving the victims,” Lengthy Seaside Police Chief Wally Hebeish instructed reporters.
Eric is one among greater than 1,300 kids and teenagers killed by a gun thus far in 2023 within the US, in accordance with the Gun Violence Archive. Firearms turned the No. 1 killer of youngsters and teenagers within the US in 2020, surpassing motorcar accidents, which had lengthy been the main reason behind demise amongst America’s youth.
Eric, the second of 5 kids, left behind a loving household that on August 3 marked his thirteenth birthday with out him, balancing unimaginable grief with a need to have a good time him.
The household made a life-sized cardboard cutout of Eric and wore his photograph on their chests, launched balloons, lit candles and listened to music to honor his life.
“Now that he’s gone, we all the time put on a shirt that has his image on it so he’s not excluded or absent from what we’re doing,” Eric’s mom, Angela Washington, mentioned. “I like my son to demise.”
Washington particularly will miss listening to music with Eric on automotive rides to Walmart, the place he cherished to take a look at the electronics part, she mentioned.
She’ll additionally miss Eric stomping round in her footwear, and him sitting together with her as they munched on ice, she mentioned. “We all the time ate ice collectively,” she recalled.
“We’re nonetheless heartbroken,” his cousin Laquioa Joseph mentioned. “We nonetheless come collectively, and we attempt to push via.”
The household takes consolation within the pleased, laughter-filled reminiscences they’ve of Eric, a lot of them centered on his fondness for music and his tendency to placed on skits and dances.
Laquioa Joseph recalled Eric’s love for hip-hop and the gleaming smile he had when he carried out. “Each time he acquired the possibility to be the focus, he would all the time have that massive smile,” she recalled.
“He’ll are available in and flip on that tune he knew, and he carried out like he was the artist,” Mary Joseph recalled. “He’d mild up a stage, and there wasn’t even a stage.”
Video from a household dance contest at a house in Compton exhibits Eric, donning crimson Crocs and a brilliant orange shirt, swaying, shuffling and grooving to music as his household cheered and laughter crammed the room. “My boy fireplace,” one individual is heard saying as Eric danced, mouthing the lyrics.
Learn different profiles of youngsters who’ve died from gunfire
As quickly as he realized to work an iPad and make a TikTok account, Eric was dancing for a social media viewers, she mentioned. “He was very theatrical and all the time shifting, all the time grooving, all the time entertaining, all the time laughing, all the time loving,” Mary Joseph mentioned.
Eric introduced his abilities to an actual stage, too, becoming a member of a dance ensemble that practiced weekly and infrequently garnered reward and a focus. He obtained an award at a neighborhood heart for his performances, Mary Joseph mentioned.
When he wasn’t performing, enjoying exterior or texting together with his cousins, the 12-year-old cherished serving to his mom handle his youthful siblings. “He sort of took on the function as the person of the home,” Mary Joseph mentioned.
“He cooked, he cleaned, he modified diapers and he helped babysit. He didn’t like that half, babysitting all three,” his mom mentioned with a chuckle.
The yr earlier than he died, Eric went to a summer time Christian camp for the primary time together with his cousins and had a good time assembly folks of various backgrounds and studying biblical requirements. The kids returned already planning to attend the subsequent yr, Mary Joseph mentioned.
“They did this yr’s camp, and it was with out Eric,” she mentioned. “It was so unhappy.”
Eric was a contented, outgoing boy who lit up each room he walked into and had a particular knack for making folks snort, his household mentioned.
“Though he solely acquired to reside 12 years right here, what a wonderful spirit,” Mary Joseph mentioned. “He was by no means to be forgotten. He left such a mark on this Earth. His light however laborious, humble spirit was such a blessing.”
“Now that he’s deceased, it appeared like he did every little thing quick as a result of possibly in his internal spirit, he knew that he would solely be right here 12 years,” Joseph mentioned.