Michael Luke / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS – As people across New Orleans prepare for the Christmas weekend, hundreds of mourners turned out for a funeral to remember a 23-month-old girl, Kiera Holmes, who was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Hundreds of mourners, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas, Sheriff Marlin Gusman, packed into the Abundant Life Tabernacle on Franklin Avenue.
The death of the little girl who was killed by a stray bullet has come to symbolize the city’s alarming murder rate, prompting residents and city leaders for action to stem the violence on the streets of New Orleans.
Holmes was killed just days before her second birthday. On Sunday afternoon, she was playing outside the B.W. Cooper housing development when she was caught in the crossfire of a shooting that also injured another man.
Holmes' family thanked the mourners who were in attendance and handed out cards that said, "Your presence, thoughts and prayers helped to lighten our burden and added strength..."
Landrieu and Gusman were just some of the elected officials attending the high-profile funeral.
“As we come to wrap our arms around this family,” said Landrieu during his eulogy for Holmes, “as we come to say that we all one, that we all belong to the same family, that we are united in our love for each other, because love conquers all.”
The mayor called for unity in the community, but also wanted to use the tragic death of Holmes as motivation for residents to take action against the city’s escalating violence.
“We have to commit ourselves to the notion that not any of us, especially that baby girl -- this angel among us – has lived a life in vain,” said Landrieu.
Pastor Tyrone Jefferson also called for death of Holmes to cause change in New Orleans.
Holmes is expected to be buried later this afternoon.