'It's very, very heartbreaking.' Community remembers slain Bridgeport teen as gentle and caring friend
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Bridgeport Friday to bid farewell to a beloved teen who was fatally shot at a party in Fairfield three weeks ago.
Zion Burton, 15, was shot to death during a party at a church hall in Fairfield.
"He was my close friend. We've been through a lot," said 17-year-old Nasir Style, of Bridgeport.
Style and 16-year-old Isaiah Hemming, also of Bridgeport, are both incoming seniors at Central High School. They said between them, they've lost eight friends over the past three years to deadly gun violence in addition to Burton.
"And it's very, very heartbreaking, seeing a close friend like that," Style added.
"It's an eye-opener to me and kids out there like me. This street stuff is not, not it. Like, put the guns down," Hemming said.
The teens were among hundreds of mourners who lined up at Messiah Baptist Church in Bridgeport to pay their final respects to Burton, whose death rocked the community. It shocked the community because he was known for being such an easygoing kid who was devoted to his family and studies.
"Even with death, we try to celebrate the life. The short life," said Joe Grits, who spoke on behalf of the family. He is also a mentor to young people in Bridgeport.
Grits said the No. 1 lesson that emerged from this heartbreaking loss is the urgent need to teach young people better communication skills in hopes to prevent more bloodshed.
"There's so many ways you can get through without resorting to violence," Grits said.
Burton's mother told News 12 Connecticut two days after the shooting that 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 was cut short, Burton's friends said they will always remember him for his hard work, gentle humor and caring heart.
The family starting a GoFundMe campaign to help promote Burton's legacy.