Botham Shem Jean was remembered as vibrant, full of life and a child of God as more than 1,500 people gathered Thursday for his memorial at Greenville Avenue Church of Christ.
“Today we are here to celebrate the life of Botham Jean,” minister Michael Griffin said at the beginning of the three-hour service. “We’re not here for any other reason but to celebrate his life,” he added, raising his voice.
Jean, 26, was shot and killed Sept. 6 by off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who told investigators she thought she had entered her apartment and encountered an intruder.
Ignatius Jean, a relative of Botham, said that the news shook their homeland, the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.
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“A nuke has hit our island,” he said.
Ignatius Jean also remembered a vibrant boy who once was caught making an omelet when he was 5, explaining that he didn’t want to wake his mother.
Solemn attendees filed slowly into the church, some of them couples silently holding hands, at 10 a.m. For nearly two hours, they walked up to the front of the church to view Jean in his casket, as photos from his life were displayed on overhead screens and music played.
Sections of the church were reserved for representatives of Harding University, where Jean studied business and PriceWaterhouseCooper, where Jean worked. At least 30 ministers from various Churches of Christ attended.
Also present were members of the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.
The Rev. Sammie Berry of the West Dallas Church of Christ, who delivered the eulogy, said he appreciated their presence and said he hoped it was a sign that city leaders were committed to getting justice for Jean and his family.
“He was a high achiever who inspired many,” said Berry, speaking to reporters after the service. “We know that nothing can be done to bring Bo back, but we can’t let Bo become another statistic.”
Berry was joined by members of Jean’s family, but they did not speak to the media.
Jean was shot to death at Sept. 6 in his apartment in the South Side Flats, 1210 S. Lamar in Dallas. Guyger has been charged with manslaughter, and the case is under investigation by the Texas Rangers.
Berry said the Dallas-area Church of Christ community “will not stand by quietly” and accept narratives that shift the focus to Jean.
“He was slain in his home where he had the right to be and was abiding by the law,” Berry said.
“We demand justice. We won’t be satisfied with anything else.”
Berry asked investigators to be “on the right side of history” and urged the community to remain peaceful as the investigation proceeds.
During the memorial, Griffin addressed the racial tension surrounding Jean’s death.
“Bo didn’t see color,” he said. “Bo saw love.”