Loved ones viewing the body of 27-year-old Paterson Debreus were inconsolable. Some collapsed onto the ground in pain, while others literally leaned on family members and friends for support. NBC 6 spoke with the victim's cousins Samantha Debreus and Melissa Bebreus.
Loved ones viewing the body of 27-year-old Paterson Debreus were inconsolable. Some collapsed onto the ground in pain, while others literally leaned on family members and friends for support.
Their screams and cries echoed through The Christ Community Church at 15651 NW 6th Avenue in North Miami Friday night.
"Paterson was a loving caring person. He just had a child. Now both of his kids have to grow up without a father because somebody was so cruel and heartless,” said his cousin, Samantha Debreus.
A week ago Paterson was paying his respects to a friend in a northeast Miami funeral home, Funeraria Latina Emanuel, when he was fatally shot when a gunman opened fire. One other person was killed and 12 people were injured, including a 5-year-old girl.
Police believe the shower of bullets was gang-related. Debreus’ cousins insist he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The man leaves behind a newborn baby and an 8-year-old son who still can’t understand the fact that his father is gone.
“He keeps telling us we’re lying. He knows his dad isn’t dead. He’s laughing and he doesn’t know it’s true,” said another cousin, Melissa Debreus.
Samantha Debreus said Paterson Debreus was not a gang member.
“My cousin was just an innocent bystander trying to show love to a friend,” she said.
This time, police were ready for a similar incident. They stood guard outside the church. Police officers in bulletproof vests were at the ready near the doors, and guarded every corner of the church. Paterson’s cousins say some family members were too terrified to come and say their goodbyes.
"The church would have been really packed,” Samantha Debreus said. “But everyone was afraid due to what these people have caused our family. They’ve caused our family nothing but pain.”
At this time of mourning, they want the person or people responsible to turn themselves in.
"All we’re asking for is for closure. We want justice. We also want peace. This could have been me. This could have been you,” Samantha Debreus cried.
Funeral services for Paterson Debreus will be held Saturday morning. Family members hope that the fear won’t keep loved ones at home again, and ask anyone who is even thinking of seeking revenge to pray for peace instead.