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The Boston youth worker shot and killed as she prepared to celebrate the Caribbean Festival in Dorchester last week has been laid to rest.
More than a thousand mourners filled the pews at Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan to celebrate the life and legacy of 26-year-old Dawnn Jaffier.
There were old classmates from the John D. O'Bryant High School in Boston and from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Colleagues from her time at City Year and AmeriCorps, where she worked with Boston Public School children. And many families from the West End House Boys and Girls Club in Allston, where she'd spent a great deal of time for more than half her life.
Jaffier was a young woman of such promise. She did it all right, set goals and worked to meet them. She'd planned for a career in youth development. She wanted to give back by working in the kinds of programs that helped shape her life.
"She was a big sister to them. It's like she knew for herself that she had a community that cared about her and so she wanted to do the same things for kids that came after her and make sure they're growing in the right way," said Nellie Hunt of Avon, who attended the funeral.
Inside the church, her only sibling, Ian Jaffier Jr., was one of the speakers. He said she was the reason he started playing basketball. His sister had played at the Boys and Girls Club.
"I stand before you a broken man, but I'm trying to keep it together and stay strong for my family, my beautiful family," he said. Ian said he placed his house key inside his sister's casket, so that anytime she needs to, she can come home.
"She was really just full of life, already smiling, always willing to give back. Just a beautiful person inside and out."Natasha Edwards
Later, a relative read from a letter written to Dawnn by her mother, Althea Jaffier.
"As a baby, you were quick to crawl, quick to run ... quick to talk. Your independence was so evident. The events of Aug. 23, 2014 completely shattered by entire world. When we were called to the hospital we had no idea what condition you were in, but I had every intention to bring you back home and nurse you back to health," the letter said. "But that was not to be. I am completely heartbroken, baby. I feel as if the heaviest object in the world is pressing on my heart. I cannot breathe."
After the service, outside the church, Natasha Edwards, who was a resident assistant in Dawnn's dormitory at UMass Amherst, said that Dawnn's death — the unintended victim of street violence, police say — is dispiriting.
"She was really just full of life, already smiling, always willing to give back," Edwards said. "Just a beautiful person inside and out. She was really like an angel on Earth."
"It's unfortunate that we live in a time where so much of our youth, it's like they have no fear," she continued. "That someone could commit and act so vile in such a place where numerous police officers were, so many innocent people were. That someone would commit such a crude act. It's just — it's disheartening."
Jaffier was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery after the funeral services.
Keith Williams — an 18-year-old from Dorchester — has been charged with the murder. He's pleaded not guilty.
This segment aired on August 31, 2014.
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