When his one-year-old cousin was shot in the head while sitting in a van on a video set, Oakland rapper Kafani posted a health update in the Twittersphere:
“Right now now lil cuz in coma but both sides of brain seems to be functioning right now pray pls,” he tweeted.
Tragically, the prayers couldn’t stop the death of baby Hiram Lawrence, who was pronounced brain dead by doctors at Children’s Hospital-Oakland and taken off life support today. He was pronounced dead at 3:05 p.m., the Rev. Roosevelt Taylor said.
The decision was supported by hospital staff and the second opinion of a pediatrician after multiple tests were done on baby Hiram’s brain activity. Family and friends flooded the hospital to support the family as they insisted on one more test before taking baby Hiram off of the machines — that test was consistent with the others.
Six other people were also wounded on the wild video set, which was being filmed in front of State Market Liquors in West Oakland. According to the Associated Press, 15 people were outside shooting the video on small cameras, posing with liquor bottles outside of the store’s entrance. When the shots were fired (over 50 according to some witnesses), the store’s owner, Salah Abdullah, said he ran for cover.
“Everybody was scared,” Abdullah said. “There was yelling and screaming from inside and outside the store.”
Baby Hiram’s mother, Brittany Houston, showed off a tiny footprint tattoo of her son on her arm while standing outside the hospital to call for an end to violent crime:
“The shootings need to end. I shouldn’t have to lose my baby to a gunshot.” Houston said Friday. “This[tattoo] is how I’m going to have to remember my baby because somebody wanted to start shooting,” Houston said. “I’ve got to be strong for my baby. He fought for 11 days.”
Hiram Lawrence, Sr. was holding his son when the gunfire erupted outside the liquor of November 28. He was shot in the hand.
“He doesn’t deserve this,” the father said in his last public comments Wednesday. “I was running around with the wrong people. It’s not my fault. It’s not my son’s fault.”
Five “persons of interest” have been identified by police; no arrests have been made.