Precious Alex was 15 when she died last Tuesday, shot through a window as she slept in her family's apartment.
Many of the more than 100 people who gathered on Sunday to remember her at a rally against violence held in Mountain View were teenagers, too.
There were school friends in memorial hoodies printed with Alex's smiling face. There were aunties and cousins, part of the girl's close-knit Anchorage extended family. And there were neighbors and strangers, brought together in heartbreak.
A few dozen of them had spent the morning washing cars at the Mountain View Community Center in order to raise money for funeral expenses. At 2 p.m. the crowd assembled to march through the neighborhood, crossing potholes and puddles and chanting a refrain led by Precious Alex's grandmother:
Stop the violence.
Increase the peace.
We love you Nae-Nae. And this is what we do.
We're walking this rally and it's all for you.
People wore sweatshirts emblazoned with pictures of Alex that read "Rest Easy" and "Only the Good Die Young." One woman had shaved Alex's nickname "Nae-Nae" into her hair. Teenage boys wore wearing flat-brimmed baseball caps and diamond studs in their ears cried.
Neighbors opened apartment windows and leaned out to watch the procession walk by.
Dads carried toddlers and mothers pushed strollers.
Police cruisers blocked streets so the crowd could pass.
The group's message -- written on signs, printed on T-shirts and spoken in prayers -- was clear: Remember the vivacious teenager who was earning a 3.8 GPA when she died. And make sure nothing like the act of violence that killed her happens in Anchorage again.
Police have charged two men, 24-year-old Jamal Townsend and 28-year-old Lamar Burney, in Precious Alex's shooting. A third person, Karlie West, 21, faces charges in the Alex murder for allegedly driving a getaway car.
During arraignments for Townsend and Burney last week at the Anchorage jail, prosecutors claimed Alex's shooting had been motivated by revenge: About two weeks before the shooting, Townsend had lost a fight with Quentin Hargrove, who is engaged to Precious Alex's mother DeMetra Alex.
It isn't clear whether Precious had been purposely targeted.
"It's just got to stop," said RaShawn Mayberry, a family member who was one of the main organizers behind the rally. "The Bible says we are our brothers' keepers."
Brechelle Sweatt said she had the uneasy sense that young people were less likely to respect each other's lives these days.
"They think it's a joke, or it's a game," she said.
The group's route took them up Price Street and down Thompson Avenue. They passed places in the Mountain View community that have recently been marred with ugly violence: the site where a woman was shot in the leg as she slept last summer by an unknown stranger. The apartment broken into last May by Jerry Andrew Active, who allegedly then sexually assaulted a 2-year-old and elderly woman inside the home before killing two people.
Yet many in the memorial crowd said they rejected the idea that a swell of violence in Anchorage was confined to Mountain View or any other single neighborhood.
"It's all the same. Anchorage is Anchorage. We're all a big community," said Miosoty White.
Mao Tosi, a community activist who helped organize the rally, said a moment of solidarity was a good thing. More important, he said, was follow-up: Making sure the teenagers who showed up to grieve also have positive outlets for their time along with educational and job-skill training.
"It's really frustrating and heartbreaking to do these fundraisers," he said. "It's like, where do we go from here?"
Later, at the Mountain View Community Center, people lined the walls for a remembrance of Precious Alex. A reggae band played. Alex's mother, DeMetra, sang "Angel of Mine" by the singer Monica.
"She was my first born and my best friend," DeMetra said of her daughter.
"This is hard," said 18-year-old Crislyn Carmack, a friend of Precious Alex's who held a microphone in the middle of the room.
"I love you, man. I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you. But I'm here now."
Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4344.
By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS