MANATEE — The pink coffin adorned with pink roses and white carnations rested in the front center of the church sanctuary.
Inside, 19-year-old Crystal Dawn Johnson lay with her baby girl, Lariah Faith Funsch.
Grieving family and friends filled the pews at the Happy Gospel Center on Wednesday for a parting glimpse of the young mother and daughter whose lives were tragically ended just over a week ago during a home invasion.
A few feet from the coffin, Lawrence Funsch, Johnson’s fiance and the father of her baby, sat with his head in his hands and wept inconsolably.
Beside him, Johnson’s mother, Susan Moore, silently cried.
Both were home with Johnson, who was seven months pregnant, when she was fatally shot after three masked men broke into their apartment July 12, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives. Johnson collapsed in the bathroom, then was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital, where she died. Her unborn baby was successfully delivered but died eight hours later.
“There are two precious lives we’ve come here to memorialize and celebrate,” Pastor Bill Bailey said from the pulpit behind the coffin.
‘We’re are here today, much too soon. I’m ticked. There is something about this that just isn’t right. Part of us feels there’s somebody who’s got to pay.”
Despite feelings of anger, Bailey reminded the victim’s loved ones that the Bible teaches not to repay evil with evil and urged them not to take justice into their own hands.
“Vengeance is mine, says the Lord,” he quoted from scripture. “Overcome evil with good.”
Bradenton Funeral Home spokeswoman Lavelle Bing also addressed the crowd and encouraged mourners to seek God during their time of bereavement.
The congregation, many who wore T-shirts with Johnson and Lariah’s names and picture, then sang hymns including “Amazing Grace.”
Tears flowed as the group of about 100 watched a slide-show that included photos of Johnson, the baby and friends and family while songs played like Alan Jackson’s “Sissy’s Song” and “I Want to Stroll Over Heaven With You” played in the background.
Following the service, the pink coffin was loaded into a black limousine and taken to Skyway Memorial Gardens, where the mother and daughter were laid to rest.
During the fatal early morning shooting at the DeSoto Village apartment, Funsch returned fire at the intruders with a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson that belonged to Moore. Funsch told deputies that he hit at least one of the men and that they ran out of the apartment, according to reports.
Last week, detectives arrested 28-year-old Everrick Jermain Houston on double murder charges in connection with the slayings after his blood was found in the home.
They believe Houston was one of the intruders, but the case is still under investigation.
On Tuesday night, he remained without bond at the Manatee County jail. No other arrests had been made.
In the end, during the eulogy, Bailey asked that God give Johnson’s and her daughter’s loved ones strength.
“Let the gunshots stop,” he prayed.
“Let the innocent bloodshed cease.”