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Associated Press, Published July 04 2012

Funeral for slain Minneapolis 5-year-old brings pleas for peace

MINNEAPOLIS — A community grieved along with the family of a 5-year-old who was killed as he slept on his grandmother's couch in north Minneapolis.

Hundreds attended the funeral Tuesday for Nizzel George, and many in the crowd wore shirts emblazoned with Nizzel's photo. They clapped and shouted "Amen!" as speakers called for peace and stood with raised hands as songs filled the room.

Two teens, ages 17 and 15, were charged this week with premeditated first-degree murder. The older boy was charged as an adult and the younger as a juvenile.

Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels told attendees at the funeral that it's always a sad day when one child is gunned down by another.

"A 17-year-old hardly knows what he's doing. We have to tell him," he said. "If we teach a child he's not valuable, he will act like he's not valuable. And if we teach a child that other people are not valuable, he will treat other people as if they're not valuable."

Nizzel was the fifth child shot to death in North Minneapolis in less than a year, according to a St. Paul Pioneer Press report (http://bit.ly/LxSWlA ).

Prosecutors say the two suspects shot as many as 10 rounds at the house where Nizzel was sleeping last week. The criminal complaint says the shooting was retaliation for another shooting that happened at another house a night earlier.

Bishop Richard Howell decried the guns, gangs and "uncontrollable anger" that persist in the community. He said it was time to restore a sense of compassion.

"I believe we have the ability to bring morning time to the north side of Minneapolis," Howell said. "So 5-year-old and 6-year-old boys and girls can go about their lives without fear of any bullets."

When the bishop announced the arrival of a horse-drawn carriage to carry Nizzel's body to the cemetery, the boy's mother could be heard wailing.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said earlier in the week that the suspects have long criminal histories. He called the shooting "absolutely tragic and unnecessary."

The older teen was being held on $2 million bail. The younger teen is charged in juvenile court, where his charging details haven't been made public. Prosecutors will seek to have him tried as an adult.

Nizzel's father, Cornelius George, wrote in the funeral program that Nizzel meant the world to him.

"Words can't express the love I have for you my first and only son," he wrote. "... R.I.P. Daddy's LiL Angel."

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.