COCOA, Fla. – Florida Today reports that the sincere Pierce funeral services at Riverview Memorial Gardens abruptly ended Saturday afternoon when an unknown gunman fired a single shot and struck the deceased mother.
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The shooting occurred when guests paid their last respects to the 18-year-old man, one of two teenagers who killed Brevard County deputy in Cocoa on November 13th. Funeral services were held for the other murdered teenager, 16-year-old Angelo Croom, on November 21st.
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When the pastor finished his prayers and Pierce’s friends and loved ones put flowers on his coffin, a loud bouncing sound was heard.
The sound of a single shot was followed by a stunned silence before Quasheda Pierce could be shouted for being hit. The mourners first reacted slowly before they realized what had happened, then rushed to nearby cars and quickly left the funeral.
[RELATED: Sheriff: Brevard deputy ‘forced to fire,’ fatally shooting 2 teens in car]
The crowd of about 50 panicked and left the cemetery when Quasheda Pierce’s close friends and family took care of his injury.
Friends and family were able to help Quasheda Pierce into the minibus before the ambulances and EMTs arrived. The nature and severity of his injury were not immediately known. Some at the scene said he was shot in the leg.
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He lay on the floor as his loved ones tried to help him until they could take him to a local hospital.
Five and ten minutes after the shooting, representatives from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene, carrying rifles for several 911 calls.
Investigators and crime detectives stayed in the cemetery all Saturday afternoon.
Some witnesses at the scene said the shot came from behind a nearby row of trees where some guests, including a mother holding a young baby, stood in the shade to breathe in the heat.
A loud bouncing sound could be heard, but it was not determined where the potential shooter was located, or whether Pierce himself was the target, or whether the shooting was intentional at all.
Further details were not immediately available as to who or why carried out the shooting. Brevard County MPs demarcated the crime scene on Saturday while continuing the investigation.
The deaths of Pierce and Croom on Nov. 13 left many unanswered questions for their family and the public as to why Jafet Santiago-Miranda, deputy of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, fired more shots into the car when the teens didn’t pull it. Ivey said MPs thought the vehicle was stolen, but teenage families and attorney Natalie Jackson said they had permission to use the car and were named false identities.
The death of the teenager sparked interest in the country, with Benjamin Crump, a well-known civil rights lawyer, working on behalf of the families in the tender he had called for justice.
Earlier, Sheriff Wayne Ivey released a dashcam footage of the November 13 shooting, which showed the teenagers pulled into a driveway after being followed by two lampless BCSO cars. Driver Crooms then backed away from the exit and drove in the direction of a deputy, who pulled out a gun several times and shouted at the teenager to stop the car. Ivey wrote in a Facebook post that the MP “was then forced to fire his service weapon to try to prevent the car’s death threat from hitting him”.
The teenage families and lawyers say the dashcam footage shows Crooms trying to avoid the MP – not hitting him.
Honest Pierce’s aunt, Cynthia Byrd-Green, spoke mournfully about the passing of her teenage child, just minutes before another outbreak of violence on Saturday.
– I’m injured, I’m depressed. Just bad. So bad. My baby is not here. He left a pointless tragedy, she said before hearing the shot.
Brevard County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comments on Saturday’s shooting investigation