BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Saturday afternoon in Birmingham, in a modest funeral home on First Avenue North, the pain came out.

As the minister read from Scripture, the pain came out one agonizing scream at a time.

Erica Tenice Connell, surrounded by family and friends, had made it to her son’s casket.

Keleen RaShad Connell, 27, was shot and killed by Birmingham police on Feb. 23.

Just ten days later, in a funeral home less than a mile from where Keleen took his final breath, Erica Tenice Connell had come to give her son a homegoing.

They showed up early on Saturday afternoon. Friends and family, old and young, mourners filed in one after the other to fill the purple-blue chairs in Dante Jelks’ Funeral Home. At the family’s request, they wore red, white and black. They had dressed to the nines.

So had Keleen. The young man’s body rested in an open casket at the front of the room. He appeared to be smiling.

As his mother — wearing all white — reached the casket, she wailed.

“Baby, baby,” his mother screamed. “Call me mama one more time,” she repeated again and again. “Call me mama one more time.”

The minister continued to read from a Psalm as Erica Connell spent her final moments with her son.

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust,” the minister read.

His words seemed to do little to soothe the mother’s pain. This wasn’t the first time Erica Connell had lost a son to gun violence. Keleen’s older brother, Kerry, was shot to death 11 years ago when he was only 18.

Now, Erica was dealing with her youngest’s son’s passing.

“One more time,” Erica Connell said, still standing over Keleen’s casket. “One more time.”

Pamela Harris knew Keleen Connell since he was five years old. She and Keleen’s mother, Erica, raised their children together. Keleen called her “auntie.”

On Saturday, Harris shared her memories of Connell, whose friends called him “Bumpy.”

“He loved to joke around,” Harris said. “And he loved to dance.”

She said that when he was a child, Keleen would ask everyone in sight if they’d like to see his latest groove.

“And every time you would think that he was going to show you something new, but it was always the same,” she said.

The mourners laughed for the first time.

“But it was always just as funny as the first time I’d seen it,” she finished.

Harris said that she learned a young man’s life “had been taken by Birmingham police” on Feb. 23, but she didn’t find out it was Keleen Connell until the next day. When she heard the news, Harris said she was heartbroken.

“But when I came in here to view his body and all that they had done to his flesh, they could not take that smile off his face,” Harris said. “They took his body and his flesh, but they cannot do anything to his soul, because it belongs to Jesus.”

“Amen,” the crowd replied.

After remembrances of Keleen, mourners traveled by car to Oakland Memorial Gardens for a brief graveside ceremony.

Keleen Connell’s pallbearers — Spencer Brown, Terrell Brown, Eric Cade, Jeremy Cade, Michael Johnson and Rueben Cargill — carried Keleen’s black, polished casket from the hearse, placing it above his final resting place.

Erica Connell fell onto her son’s casket as she wept. Family and friends reached out, laying their hands on the grieving mother for support.

“We commit his body to the ground,” the pastor said. “Earth to earth. Ashes the ashes. Dust to dust.”

In a final send-off for Keleen Connell, his mother Erica released balloons: silver stars and red hearts. Caught in the wind on a blustery day, the balloons veered off course, tangling themselves in a tree. The onlookers groaned.

One balloon — for Keleen — managed to float away. A red heart, let go with love, made its way slowly into the sky.

“Look,” a young girl said, pointing up at the lone red balloon against the clear blue sky.

Everyone looked up and said their final goodbyes.