This week family and friends mourn the loss of a man, whose soul they say, could be seen through his eyes.
“He’d give you the coat off his back no matter what,” said Najee Holmes’ aunt, Priscilla Starkweather.
“[He had] the biggest heart.”
24-year-old Najee Holmes died Saturday after being shot in the back at a home on Baty Street in the City of Elmira.
“Just an all-around wonderful wonderful young man trying to grow up in society,” said Pastor Robert Smith from Shabach Tabernacle Church.
“Like we all have we make choices — some are good, some are bad — still no reason for this young man’s life to be taken.”
Holmes previously plead guilty to two gun possession related charges and had served prison time.
“What you read in the paper concerning Najee and guns he should’ve never had them,” said Pastor Smith.
“Its about choices. But if they weren’t so easy and accessible in the streets maybe he wouldn’t of had them. Maybe we wouldn’t of seen his name in the paper like this, and maybe we wouldn’t be burying him by way of gunshot.”
And Holmes’ aunt says his past does not define the person that he was or the way he will be remembered.
“Najee is wonderful man, growing to be a wonderful man,” said Starkweather.
“I just wish he would’ve had the chance.”
“Naj struggled with society and who we was inside but he was finding his way,” she said.
“You know everybody deserves a chance. He was a human being, he could’ve been someone else’s nephew or son or daughter you know. How would they have felt?”
Among the extensive family and countless friends Najee leaves behind, his aunt says he leaves behind his biggest accomplishment — his son Najee II — who just turned one on January 19th.
“I’m angry with how we as people have allowed these things to happen,” said Pastor Smith.
“Because we need to take apart in the fact that its not just the Police Department’s fault, not just City Hall’s fault, but it’s our fault as well because we all play a part in this.”
The viewing for Najee Holmes will be held at Shabach Tabernacle Church from 1-2pm Monday, February 22nd immediately followed by his funeral services at 2pm.
Lawrence Baker, the man charged with Second Degree Murder in connection to the death of Holmes is scheduled to be back in court Friday at 1:30pm for a preliminary hearing.