BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - It's been a very solemn and emotional Memorial Day for a local military family who buried their murdered loved one.
Jay Nieves had many, many friends in Buffalo who gave each other comfort on Monday, remembering a young man who was seeking a life of public service only to fall victim to senseless violence.
An Army Honor Guard began a memorial service for 21-year-old Jay Nieves, who had served in the Army National Guard and aspired to become a police officer. Nieves was shot to death in the Vermont Street home of a friend early Friday morning, following a bar fight at the 4Play night club on Chippewa Street. Nieves was said to have tried to intervene.
His friend, Jose Santana, said, "He was sticking up for somebody, and the guy felt belittled, because he put him in his place."
Police are looking for 17-year-old Joshua Nieves, who has the same last name as Jay Nieves but is not related, according to the family.
Rev. Catalino Vazquez of the North Star Christian Fellowship asked, "How much more innocent blood has to be shed?"
At Nieves's memorial service, a plea went out to his many friends and family members that challenged them to move forward without seeking vengeance.
Rev. Vazquez said, "How many more lives have to be lost? How many more brothers have to be lost? Husbands? Fathers?'
It was Nieves who would tells his friends who might have gotten into trouble to stay off the streets because of the potential violent consequences.
Jay's friend, Pedro DeJesus, said, "It's hard. He talked to me plenty of times and told me: "Stay away from trouble." It's hard not having him around."
A heart-shaped balloon launched by his mother led the final farewell.
His mother, Beatriz Rodriguez, said, "I love you."
Rev. Vazquez added, "It's not a good-bye, but a "See you later, Jay.""
"He was loving. He had a great heart. He was a great brother, a great son. He was loved by many people. Had many friends," said Jay's sister, Suzanne Rodriguez.
All gathering to say goodbye to man who wanted to work to prevent the very kind of violence that claimed his life. If you have any leads for police, you can call 847-2255.
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