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They named him the “neighborhood hero and healer.”

Najee Seabrooks was “a pillar in the community” who constructed bridges in between quarreling youngsters, rival gang members and victims of gun violence in a city that has noticed its share ahead of his personal life was reduce quick at 31, family members and buddies stated at a memorial Saturday.

Police shot and killed Seabrooks immediately after 5 hours of tense negotiations as he was in the grips of an apparent mental well being episode, harming himself with knives and calling 911 various instances.

Hundreds gathered at the Christian Fellowship Center in Paterson, a line snaking in rows as soft gospel played. Seabrooks lay in an open casket, wearing a black suit and a pair of black and white Vans sneakers, his preferred footwear.

“By the quantity of men and women right here these days, we recognize that he was loved,” the Rev. Sarah Anthony stated.

Seabrooks’ perform for the Paterson Healing Collective, a nearby nonprofit, drew him to the city’s most vulnerable men and women, as effectively as these most probably to commit violence. It also connected him to these with influence, from nearby activists to members of the City Council and the head of a regional hospital, who stated his death should really spur reform.

The March three incident has renewed urgency in conversations more than how emergency responders deal with men and women in the throes of a mental well being crisis, such as what is the greatest way for police to respond to such calls.

In an obituary, his family members recalled his positivity and “infectious smile.”

Born and raised in Paterson, Seabrooks was a championship basketball player for Eastside Higher College. He got an associate’s degree from Ventura College in California but returned property to Paterson exactly where, immediately after surviving a drive-by shooting, he started perform as a “high-threat intervention specialist,” handling some of the nonprofit’s most difficult situations.

Outdoors of perform, his tastes tended toward the easier pleasures. Video games and pizza. Coaching his small brother, Sutan, in basketball. Ice cream in the park with his four-year-old daughter, Sofia.

A man wearing a jacket emblazoned with a memorial portrait of Najee Seabrooks enters the funeral on Saturday.

“He loved her additional than something and would do all he could to make certain she was taken care of,” his family members wrote.

His mother, Melissa Carter, cried out though she viewed his physique one particular final time, as roses have been placed inside her son’s casket.

“Why?” she screamed as she returned to her seat.

“This shouldn’t have occurred,” somebody else shouted.

His casket was pulled from the funeral property in a glass carriage led by two white horses. The words “Justice for Najee” have been etched on the side.

Teddie Martinez was Seabrooks’ mentor at the Paterson Healing Collective, but stated it was he who discovered “so a lot about life” from the younger Seabrooks, even turning him into a convert for Vans sneakers.

“As lengthy as I have breath in me, Najee’s name will not go in vain,” he stated.

Martinez stated he was denied access to Seabrooks in the course of the police standoff in spite of his personal perform as a violence interventionist. His group has argued Seabrooks may have survived the ordeal if he had gotten psychiatric care when he necessary it, and Martinez asked these assembled to “not drop the ball on this” and to continue to demand answers in his memory.

State Lawyer Basic Matthew Platkin’s workplace is investigating Seabrooks’ killing as needed by state law. The workplace on Thursday released hours of physique camera footage displaying police negotiating with Seabrooks for a number of hours ahead of shooting him as he leapt from a bathroom.

The workplace stated Seabrooks “came out of the bathroom and lunged toward the officers with a knife in his hand.”

At his memorial Saturday, Lisa Muhammad, who study a tribute, stated Seabrooks’ death, like his life, should really inspire other folks.

“That has to be the final Black man they kill,” she stated.

Editor’s Note: If you are facing a mental well being disorder, you are not alone. Mental well being problems impact men and women from all locations of life and all ages, but are treatable. Contact Substance Abuse and Mental Well being Solutions Administration’s national helpline at 1-800-662-Enable (4357) for therapy referral and facts.

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Deion Johnson might be reached at Stick to him on Twitter @DeionRJohhnson

Daysi Calavia-Robertson might be reached at Stick to her on Instagram at @presspassdaysi or Twitter @presspassdaysi.

S.P. Sullivan might be reached at Stick to him on Twitter @spsullivan.

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