Brooklyn residents mourned a hero last weekend.
Hundreds of people wrapped around the block at Brown Memorial Baptist Church on Washington Avenue for the homegoing service of Troy Ave’s former bodyguard, Ronald Edgar McPhatter.
“If anyone [was] in trouble he came to the rescue,” said pastor Darryl Copelano, who organized the event. “If you were special to him, he would go to bat for you.”
When McPhatter was growing up on Greene Avenue in Brooklyn, Copelano would give him haircuts or $20 if he needed money in his pocket.
Church clergy remembered him as a funny guy with a big smile.
Shanduke McPhatter, anti-gang activist and executive director of Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes, hopes his baby brother can change the face of violence in Brooklyn neighborhoods.
James Underwood, the younger cousin of McPhatter, explained that it is not snitching to hold people accountable for brutality.
Splashes of orange to celebrate Gun Violence Awareness month were seen from the line, which stretched beyond the black gates of the church to the pews. Residents wore T-shirts that read, “Stop shooting and start living.”
McPhatter’s body was open for viewing until 1:30 p.m. in a black casket with gold trimmings. A lush bouquet of roses was placed on top of the burial box.
A large heart-shaped flower arrangement had the initials, “B$B,” which symbolized the group connected with Troy Ave.
Troy Ave, a.k.a Roland Collins, was arrested after a shooting at a T.I. concert in Irving Plaza that killed McPhatter and wounded two other people. Collins faces charges of attempted murder and weapon charges.
Family members were dressed in white and black. They huddled around the casket to kiss McPhatter’s forehead and cheeks. The deceased was dressed in a white suit as well.
Echoes of sobs rang loudly across the church.
Elyjiah McPhatter delivered a heart-wrenching eulogy about his uncle’s support of his athletic abilities. “I had a game today and he said he would come. Now he can’t come.”
McPhatter’s high school basketball coach and teammate shared that McPhatter may not have been the fastest or tallest player on the school team but rose “head and shoulders above everyone else.”
The ceremony was attended by Brooklyn community leaders, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams, founder of Man Up! Inc. Andre T. Mitchell and Erica Ford, spearhead of the LIFE Camp initiative against gun violence.
Williams urged residents to acknowledge young people. He worked with Shanduke McPhatter after the murder to prevent violent retaliations in the community.
“It’s tough to see that brother in a coffin,” Williams said. “We pass by young people every morning, noon and night and we don’t say anything. They think they are invisible and they behave invisibly.”
It’s been nearly a week since the start of Gun Violence Awareness month and Adams wants more solution-based action.
“This is unnatural,” Adams said. “When the bullet hits the anatomy it continues to rip apart our community.”