SARASOTA, Fla. -- It was a day of sadness and of celebration as friends and family gathered to say goodbye to two teens whose lives were tragically cut short. Justin Ates was only 19 years old and Teria'le Rawls was 17 and both were shot to death in separate incidents just two days apart.
The funeral service for Justin Ates was held at Truvine Missionary Baptist Church in Sarasota.
“Justin was a happy kid.”
Charles Shortage was one of Justin’s mentors in the Brotherhood of Men program.
“He was a fun guy and lived his life in that direction. He didn't get too serious, I mean he understood his responsibilities and he kind of took things in stride so he was a happy young man.”
The service for Teria'le Rawls was at Happy Gospel Church in Bradenton. Rawls aunt, Lesa Snipes-Williams, told ABC 7 the day was about saying goodbye and celebrating Teria'le's life.
“What we want everybody to remember is that she was loving, she was ambitious, she was just a wonderful young lady.”
Snipes-Williams says her niece will definitely be missed but she hopes the way Teria'le lived her life will motivate others.
“And what we want everybody to get from this is to keep driving, whatever you want to go through life, just keep driving cause that is what her focus was.”
Justin's friends tell ABC 7, he always helped make those around him better.
He was a motivator, he pushed us all to do more and he was just an all around great kid,” said Dallas Hill.
Those who knew these young people best are also sharing this message.
“Violence is not the answer. Stop the violence and save our children,” said family friend, Natasha Clemons.
“I don't think it is fair. I just want people to stop the violence, that is my message, just to let it go,” said Lauren Chaplin.
Family and friends of both teens share the same sentiment, they hope those who are responsible are held accountable and that justice is served.