Mother of murdered teenager condemns city's gun culture

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The Independent Online

The mother of a 15-year-old boy shot dead in a park in Manchester gave an impassioned speech against the city's gun culture after she helped bury her son yesterday.

About 2,000 mourners, including hundreds of school children, gathered for the funeral of Jessie James. The boy's white coffin was carried by a horse-drawn carriage led by a piper to a marquee in Broadfield Park in Manchester. The tent was yards away from where Jessie was shot three times while cycling through the park on 9 September.

Detectives have said that he had nothing to do with the violent street gangs that have plagued Moss Side, and was simply "in the wrong place at the wrong time".

The boy's mother, Barbara Reid, 47, told the mourners: "The gun culture has left a prevailing stench in Manchester and is causing conflict and vision among family and friends in Moss Side and the surrounding districts.

"As a community, we need to bring an end to this senseless and malicious killing of our youths. Jessie's death must not go in vain, he must not become another statistic. It's high time we took back Moss Side from the clinch of the gunman."

She added: "Jessie still today is active in the community. Jessie's blood is on the hands of the murderer, his accomplices, his family and their friends, who do nothing or say nothing. You are equally guilty of this brutal crime.

"The murderer must be brought to justice. I will not rest until the perpetrators who have randomly massacred my son are eradicated from the streets of Manchester or wherever they have taken refuge."

She described Jessie's favourite food and drink - pasta and ginger beer -and told how he was a keen sportsman and music lover, an adventurer with an "infectious smile".

"I, as a mother, watched Jessie with keen eyes as he blossomed into a handsome young man with all the promise of a bright future.

"Suddenly, someone played God and took his life."

Hundreds of Jessie's schoolfriends from Manchester Academy, many wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "RIP Jessie", heard tributes at the Seventh Day Adventist funeral.

Black and white balloons were released as the cortege set off for Manchester Southern Cemetery led by 15 of Jessie's friends on bikes.