Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Memorial service honors slain Tampa siblings

Robinson High basketball players weep during the memorial service for their teammate Kiara Brito and her brother Jeremi Brito at the First Baptist Church of Port Tampa on Friday.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Robinson High basketball players weep during the memorial service for their teammate Kiara Brito and her brother Jeremi Brito at the First Baptist Church of Port Tampa on Friday.

TAMPA — The siblings left indelible marks, one with her artistry, the other with a precociousness that charmed teachers and the upright bass.

Reminders of Kiara and Jeremi Brito, teens fatally shot Sunday, were written everywhere Friday during a memorial service that drew about 500 to the First Baptist Church of Port Tampa. Their names were printed on T-shirts and uttered through heavy sobs in a church so packed that some mourners sat in the choir's pews behind the pulpit.

The Robinson High School girls basketball team wore black shirts with Kiara's initials and her No. 31 jersey number printed on them. Beneath many shirts, Kiara, 16, had left a more permanent monument: Tattoos. Butterflies, roses, initials, neighborhood names — her work could be seen on the skin of many mourners.

"She was just as talented an artist as she was a beautiful person," said Sarah Newton, 17, whose calf bears the words "Port Tampa" that Kiara inscribed.

She loved drawing, painting her bedroom walls with graffiti art, her friends said. But that was only a part of her. She was a good athlete with a 4.0 GPA and took Advanced Placement classes. She shopped at Hollister Co., owned tons of shoes and always upgraded to the newest pair of Air Jordans.

"Some of us remember Kiara as a diva," high school friend Justin Madison told mourners. She begged her basketball coach not to hold Saturday practices so she wouldn't mess up her hair for the weekend.

She always worked out to stay in shape, friend and neighbor Alicia Castillo, 19, said. She loved her boyfriend and joked about how she just wanted to be taken care of by her mom for the rest of her life.

Teachers said Jeremi Brito, 13, was a boy who loved to take care of them. He was Madison Middle School teacher Elizabeth Burnett's "little helper," who always asked her about her weekend and brought her a sea shell after his first cruise. When Burnett talked about looking for new furniture, Jeremi bragged about buying his own bedroom furniture and told her the right stores to visit. A bass player, he was the "heartbeat" of the school orchestra.

"Charismatic, bright, happy and funny," she said.

He cheered up classmates on the bus every grumpy morning.

"He always made me smile when I'm mad," said Suki Seal, 14.

As testimonies rang out during the service and teens duetting Aaliyah's Miss You faltered under the strain, the slain teens' mother, Judy Brito, sat in the front row with her head constantly resting on the shoulder of Kiara's boyfriend. For much of the service, sunglasses hid her eyes.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

Memorial service honors slain Tampa siblings 06/10/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 10, 2011 9:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. PolitiFact takes on big health care question: Does GOP bill cut Medicaid?

    National

    Politics and math don't always get along, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway raised a common complaint about how people talk about the future of Medicaid spending under the Senate Republican health care bill.

    Alice Jacobs, 90, at Dogwood Village, a nonprofit county-owned nursing home in Orange, Va., on June 23. Medicaid, targeted by Republicans' health care bill, pays for most of the 1.4 million elderly people in nursing homes, some of whom do not know they are on it. (Khue Bui/The New York Times)
  2. Gov. Scott in Washington as health care debate intensifies

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday began a daylong series of meetings in Washington on health care, saying he wants to ensure Florida gets its share of Medicaid funding while praising parts of the Senate GOP’s Obamacare replacement.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks at Creative Sign Designs in Tampa on June 13.
  3. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo in Parkshore Plaza on the market for $1.5 million. {Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]
  4. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor's race has been making headlines for nearly two months as Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker have been making speeches, pressing the flesh at fundraisers and gathering their ground forces for an election battle that has already broken fundraising records.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  5. Tampa moves to pause permits for 5G wireless equipment to assess impact of new Florida law

    Blogs

    To business groups, the bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed Friday will clear the way for superfast 5G wireless communications and give Florida an edge in attracting high-tech companies.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other local officials have worried that a new state law aimed at facilitating the installation of 5G wireless technology could clutter scenic corridors like Tampa's Riverwalk.