“It’s very, very heartbreaking.” The community remembers the slain Bridgeport teenager as a sweet and caring friend
Zion Burton, 15, was shot at a party at a church hall in Fairfield.
“He was my close friend. We’ve been through a lot,” said Nasir Style, 17, from Bridgeport.
Style and 16-year-old Isaiah Hemming, also of Bridgeport, are both incoming seniors at Central High School. They said between them they had lost eight friends in the past three years to deadly gun violence in addition to Burton.
“And it’s very, very heartbreaking to see a close friend like that,” Style added.
“It’s an eye opener for me and kids like me. This street stuff isn’t, isn’t it. Like, lay down your arms,” Hemming said.
The teenagers were among hundreds of mourners who lined up at Messiah Baptist Church in Bridgeport to pay their last respects to Burton, whose death shook the community. This shocked the community because he was known to be such an easy-going kid who was dedicated to his family and his studies.
“Even with death, we try to celebrate life. The short life,” said Joe Grits, who spoke on behalf of the family. He is also a mentor for young people in Bridgeport.
Grits said the No. 1 lesson that has emerged from this heartbreaking loss is the urgent need to teach young people better communication skills in the hope of avoiding further bloodshed.
“There are so many ways to pass without resorting to violence,” Grits said.
Burton’s mother said News 12 Connecticut two days after the shooting it was unusual for him to be at a party. She said he spent most of his time working and studying.
As the community paid tribute to a young life that had been cut short, Burton’s friends said they would always remember him for his hard work, gentle humor and caring heart.
The family is launching a GoFundMe campaign to help promote Burton’s legacy.