Imagine how parents feel losing both of their children in the matter of seconds. That’s what the family of Justice and Mario Toliver has to confront.
Justice, 17, was shot and killed by her 14-year-old brother, Mario, on Jan. 23. She died leaving behind a two -year-old daughter and a host of family and friends stunned and in mourning.
Nearly a week after the shooting, Mario turned himself into police and has since been charged in juvenile court with murder and other gun related charges.
The family had to pull itself together to lay the young girl to rest. Last Friday, hundreds of mourners gathered at First AME Oakland to pay their final respects.
Mario was allowed to attend his sister’s funeral service, which meant he was escorted and allowed to spend some time alone with her body before the service.
Rev. Dr. Harold R. Mayberry, who accompanied the young boy to McNary Williams & Jackson Mortuary last Friday morning, said police officers had blocked off the street for the young man’s visitation.
Mario was in emotional turmoil as he looked at his sister in the casket, struggling to
grasp the reality of his action, said Mayberry.
In the face of a family tragedy of this magnitude, community members are saying they understand how the reality of the situation could be overwhelming and incomprehensible for such a young boy.
Rev. Eltyna McCree attended the funeral to support the family. She says regardless of what occurred, the love Mario had for his sister will not go away, despite the horrendous situation and circumstances.
“This is his flesh and blood no matter what,” she said. “I can’t imagine that it was intentional.”
Now that Justice has been laid to rest, the family will undergo an intense court battle to find out the legal consequences for Mario and what the rest of his life could entail.
According to the young boy’s attorney Adante Pointer, the family still embraces Mario, noting there aren’t any winners in this situations.
According to Pointer, police said his client has made statements saying the shooting was an accident, and given that the people most affected – his family members – have forgiven him, it seems that the young man will be punished for the sake of what society thinks should be the punishment.
Some are saying that Mario should be given treatment rather than punishment.
“Where’s justice in this sense?” said Pointer. “Our hope is that the court takes into count, all the factors that led this 14-year-old boy to be in this predicament in his life.”