MODESTO (CBS13) — Family and friends are remembering a little boy who was gunned down in front of his home in Modesto as loved ones prepare to lay him to rest.
Xavier Smith, 5, was a member of the Central Valley Jets. Since his death, there has been an outpouring of support from the oldest to the youngest members of the community.
Since Smith was gunned down almost two weeks ago, his teammates from the Central Valley Jets little league have been asking a lot of questions.
“What happened to Xavier? Why isn’t Xavier here? Is Xavier going to come back?” said Xavier’s coach Melissa Gutierrez.
A few days ago, before the team hit the field for the first time without their shining star. The kids released balloons and pinned No. 9 patches on their uniforms, all in his honor.
“For them to understand the concept of what’s going on and process it, it’s been kind of tough. We just try to tell them, Xavier is watching over us now. He’s going to be your protector, just to keep it to where they are not tragically impacted by the reality of what really happened to him,” she said.
According to detectives with the Modesto Police Department, Xavier was a victim of a drive-by shooting. He was killed as he played in front of his home near the garage.
“Schoolmates, it’s a little harder because they are in kindergarten and we went to a balloon release today at his school, and a lot of kids were more knowledgeable than I knew, oh yeah he’s in heaven. He’s shining on us, he’s up there, he’s happy still, and it was a lot harder hearing that from little kids,” said Asia Thompson, Xavier’s Godmother.
School leaders have offered grief counseling for Xavier’s young classmates, and teammates. Counselors advise parents to use simple, clear words when talking about death, put emotions into words and tell a child what to expect.
“I just want healing for these children, you know the children that were around my son if they need counseling or anything to know that it’s out there, even if they just want to talk to us being that we were close to him because it does hurt,” said Thompson.
At The House in Modesto, funeral services for Xavier are planned for Thursday; the day loved ones would have been celebrating his sixth birthday.
Xavier’s little league team will be playing in the playoffs this weekend with a short tribute to their most valuable player.