Twelve-year-old Tequila Forshee always wanted to be a princess.
On Saturday, her father placed a sparkly tiara on top of her head. He stood back to get a last look at his little girl dressed in a long, white dress. And then, Glenn Forshee, fighting back tears, slowly closed her casket.
“You would always say, ‘Daddy, you’re the king,’” Glenn Forshee said in his eulogy. “Today, I crown you the princess of daddy’s heart.”
Tequila was killed on Aug. 15 when a hail of gunfire ripped through her grandmother’s living room in Miami Gardens, where she sat while getting her hair braided. Police have not yet released a motive for the shooting, but have said they are searching for five male suspects age 15 to 18.
More than 300 people attended Tequila’s funeral Saturday at Cooper Temple Church of God in Christ to say farewell to the fun-loving girl who enjoyed solving puzzles and telling jokes. Some in attendance wore memorial T-shirts that depicted Tequila as an angel.
Tequila’s death drew the attention of local politicians, some of whom were in attendance, and have renewed cries to stop violence in Miami Gardens, the third-largest city in Miami-Dade County. City officials are offering $30,000 for tips that lead to the arrests of Tequila’s killers.
“To the monsters that would do this, understand that you are not our captains and we will not be your captives,” Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said. “Understand that we won’t be ruled by fear. Understand the might of who we are will always overcome. We’re the children of God. We don’t know how to lose.”
Miami Gardens has seen its share of bloodshed. During the somber ceremony, speakers called on the community to step up and push back against the kind of criminals who would put “a baby in a casket.”
“When the enemy comes in and takes one of our precious children, I want you to know we’re going to have to muster the strength after our tears, after our crying, to declare war,” said Pastor Marc Cooper of Cooper Temple.
Family members and friends accented their all-black attire with yellow highlights, Tequila’s favorite color. A youth choir sang soulful gospel songs as many in the audience shook their heads in disbelief at the white casket topped with yellow and white blooms. Some sobbed openly.
“Whenever I saw her she was always friendly and loved to dance,” said Michelle Smith, a family friend who attended the funeral. “This is just too sad. Too sad.”
Former school teachers and Tequila’s siblings paid tribute to the 7th-grader who was supposed to start her first day of school at Carol City Middle last Monday. Her favorite subject was math, and she told everyone who would listen that when she grew up she would become both a chef and a police detective. The funeral program showed a collage of Tequila’s awards from school.
There was the Language Arts Achievement Certificate, Certificate of Perfect Attendance and Reading Achievement Certificate, among others.
“I was so excited to see the woman that you would become,” Glenn Forshee continued in his eulogy. “The idea that I have been robbed of that opportunity breaks my heart.”