Fifty family members, relatives and friends wept and prayed Saturday outside Lothrop Social Hall, less than 24 hours after Jacquez L. Lewis was shot inside the building and later died.
They released 10 silver balloons that flew straight up and away in the cold late-afternoon air.
“Jacquez was a good boy,” Mardell Washington said of her 21-year-old grandson.
Lewis was one of four people shot late Friday night in the social hall at 24th and Lothrop Streets in north Omaha.
A 14-year-old girl, Aleeah Whitcomb, was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center. Her condition was not available, but police believed her injuries were not life-threatening.
Two men — Omar Williams, 22, and Tahfahn Dennis, 20 — were treated at Creighton University Medical Center and released. All four victims were Omahans.
It was the city's third homicide of the year.
Relatives said Lewis intended to join the Marine Corps this week. Cousin Ashley Redick carried letters and papers that the Marines had sent to Lewis, who, relatives said, most recently had attended Iowa Western Community College. They said he had wrestled at Omaha North High School.
Lewis had never been charged with a crime in a Nebraska or federal court, according to court records.
People hugged and cried during the 20-minute vigil called by the family. A few held up large photos of Lewis smiling in a Nebraska Huskers hoodie and a dark baseball cap worn backward.
“Huddle,” said Lewis' father, Mark Lewis. The group then gathered in a tight bunch and Andrea Richardson, a close friend of Ronda Lewis, the victim's mother, prayed aloud.
“Today we ask that You give us Your strength,” Richardson prayed. “Let this life not leave here in vain.”
Kishia Lewis, the young man's aunt, said he lived with her in northeast Omaha. She takes care of a woman in her late 90s, and Jacquez would cook for her and give the elderly lady her medications, Kishia Lewis said.
On Friday night, a variety of musical performers, including the hip-hop group Caveman Gang, played in the social hall. Dozens of teenagers and young adults attended.
A man who lives next door to the hall said it sounded as though a battle was taking place in that building.
“Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!” said Shawn McMiller, 40. “Pop! Pop! Pop!”
“It's sad,” said McMiller, who was inside his home when the shooting occurred. He estimated that 25 to 30 shots were fired.
A police statement said the shooting was reported at 11:47 p.m. Officers responded and found two of the shooting victims inside the hall.
“I've got small children,” McMiller said. “For me, Omaha is not safe for these young kids, these up-and-coming kids.”
He said some children are so accustomed to violence that they think it's cool. Society isn't doing enough, he said. Police responded quickly, he said, but people are afraid to speak up.
Police officers examined the scene throughout the night. Their yellow crime tape surrounding the area came down midmorning.
A man worked inside the social hall, with televisions on and music playing. He was cleaning blood from the floor.
World-Herald staff writer Emerson Clarridge contributed to this report.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1123, email@example.com