Jermaine "Fats" Daniel, the gregarious 15-year-old who was shot dead last week after arguing with a friend, was buried yesterday in a family plot owned by his mentor, former D.C. police chief Maurice T. Turner Jr.
About 130 police officers, relatives and friends gathered in Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at Eighth and N streets NW to remember Daniel, a youngster whom Turner took under his wing in 1988.
"This kid had an ability to generate love," Turner said after the service. "He made a lasting impression on people he came into contact with."
Some wept silently and others cried out loud as Monsignor J. Joshua Mundell compared Daniel's life on the crime-ridden streets of the Edgewood section of Northeast Washington to the Biblical struggle between good and evil.
"Does happiness come from fancy clothes, shiny automobiles and lots of trinkets of gold?" Mundell asked. "Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden thought they would find happiness by disobeying the word of God, but they found only emptiness."
Daniel's father, Henry Daniel, who is serving a 10- to 30-year prison sentence for manslaughter and drug crimes at the Lorton Correctional Complex but who was allowed to attend the funeral, sobbed openly. He said his son had last visited him in prison Dec. 23.
Diane Daniel, the slain youth's mother, also wept during the funeral. She and Henry Daniel embraced Turner repeatedly after the service.
Dozens of relatives attended, including one of Jermaine Daniel's brothers, Warren Jefferson. The boy's other brother, Leo Daniel, could not attend because he is jailed at Lorton on drug and weapons charges, but he spent time at the casket privately on Monday afternoon.
D.C. Police Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr. attended the ceremony, and six D.C. police officers acted as pallbearers. One of them, Darrell Best, chauffeured Daniel to Turner's office as a cadet in 1988 and 1989, and later kept an eye on him as a police officer.
"I knew him like a brother," Best said. "I used to pick him up after school and help him with his homework."
More than a dozen of Daniel's friends also attended the service, biting their lips and fighting back tears as they watched the blue and silver casket being carried to and from the church. At the cemetery, Harmony Memorial Park, they hesistantly approached Henry and Diane Daniel, hugging them fiercely and whispering, "I'm sorry."
Turner and Daniel became fast friends after the two met at a barbecue in 1988. The chief sent Daniel to camp, took him fishing, invited him for holidays and bought him clothes and school supplies.
Daniel, who lived with his mother in the Edgewood Terrace apartment complex, had said he sought out Turner because he wanted to stay out of trouble. But Daniel also was influenced by the drug markets in Edgewood, Turner said. He was arrested for selling marijuana in 1989, and he was taken into custody for drug possession and auto theft at least twice.
Last Wednesday, Daniel was shot in the chest and killed in a courtyard near his home. A 14-year-old, one of Daniel's best friends, told police he shot him in an argument about the suspect's girlfriend. The two had been arrested together more than once, police said.
The suspect is charged with second-degree murder and is being held at Cedar Knoll Detention Center.
"Jermaine is just one of thousands out there who needs guidance and supervision," said Turner, who is paying for the funeral along with police officers. "The community's going to have to do more. We need more mentors. Somebody's got to help these kids."