OAKLAND -- Mourners cried and wailed -- and some dropped to the floor in grief -- Friday afternoon, as four pallbearers quietly carried a miniature casket from the funeral home chapel to the waiting black hearse.
Andrew "Drew" Jackson, killed in a shocking double homicide last week, lived for only 16 months, but the boy -- with mounds of thick, curly hair and crescent brown eyes -- was beloved, jolly, a handful at times, family and friends said. He was also a child who brought joy, even when he was playing in the dirt and playfully running from his parents and giant brood of fawning aunts, great aunts, cousins, uncles and countless friends.
"When I first got back home (from living out of state), he didn't know who I was, so I would have to chase him all around the house to get a hug from him," said his cousin, 11-year-old Zaria Rowland.
It was worth it, she said, but her time with her cousin was cut short last week when the toddler and his 20-year-old father, Andrew Thomas, were shot and killed while they were sleeping at an aunt's home in the 400 block of Ghormley Avenue near 98th Avenue in East Oakland.
The child later died at Children's Hospital Oakland. His father, who was visiting Oakland from Fresno, died at the scene.
No one has been arrested in the slayings, and police have not released a motive in the killings, but Detective Jason Andersen said investigators are following "many leads."
The celebration of life held Friday at Fuller Funerals was at times joyous and hopeful with the reading of poems, prayers, music and even a rap song dedicated to Baby Drew. But when a boy who hadn't even reached his second birthday is shot to death in cold blood, mourners clearly found it hard to look past the pain.
"It's out of order for that baby to be laying there," said Bishop Joseph E. Simmons of the Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in Oakland, motioning to the casket, which was opened twice during the service. "It's out of order for this mother to have to bury her child. This is not how life is supposed to be, young folk."
There were some uplifting moments at the service.
"Drew had many nicknames, such as Baby Drew, Ben Wallace, Drewski and TT," said family friend Brian Meador II. "He enjoyed going outside and would go for his shoes every time someone headed outside. Baby Drew loved music, all animals (especially horses), cars, playing and hanging in the kitchen."
The boy's aunt, Margaret Carroll, said Baby Drew was born with an enormous amount of hair, which helped in the early hours following his birth when his mother, Alicia Jackson, 20, and father had trouble finding a name for him. "Because (they) didn't know what to name him, they just called him 'no-name hairy' because he was just so hairy" said Carroll. "He was just the cutest thing."
Mourners wore white, instead of the traditional black, to offset the tragedy and show purity and brightness at an otherwise dark occasion. Many wore teal, which was Drew's favorite color, a relative said. The casket was covered in a silky teal-colored material, and many placed long-stem white roses on his small body as they paid their respects. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was there to pay her respects, not as a political leader, said her spokesman Sean Maher, but to show support to the family. She also recently attended services for 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, who was shot and killed when she answered the door during a sleepover at a friend's home in the 3400 block of Wilson Avenue in the Dimond district last month. That slaying also remains unsolved.
The funeral for Thomas is at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Antioch Baptist Church, 1004 14th Ave. in Oakland.
There is a $30,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the slayings of Andrew Thomas and Drew Jackson. Anyone with information should call Oakland Police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.