When asked to share their memories of Demitri Quintrel Hampton, nearly everyone immediately recalls how the 21-year-old could instantly light up a room.
“He was certainly someone special,” Dr. Roy L. Pennon said on Saturday morning after leading the funeral service honoring Mr. Hampton, who was gunned down by two masked intruders in the early morning hours of January 27 inside his Flanders home while protecting his family and friends. “Everyone remembers his smile.”
As a testament to Mr. Hampton’s character, more than 300 people filled the Galilee Church of God in Christ in Riverside for his funeral, while dozens more lined up outside the rear door of the house of worship and onto the nearby street to honor their slain relative and friend.
“He was such a bright boy,” said Dr. Pennon, who is the pastor of the Galilee Church of God in Christ and has known Mr. Hampton’s family for close to 20 years. “He would have gone much higher in his life.”
During his funeral service, Mr. Hampton was remembered for his infectious smile and his love of life. According to friends in attendance, he was always happy and willing to offer his assistance to others.
Friends agreed that after graduation—Mr. Hampton was scheduled to graduate from the eastern campus of Suffolk County Community College with an associate degree in criminal justice in May—he was going to be a very successful man. He graduated from Riverhead High School in 2010.
“This is devastating,” said Marianne Fitzgerald of Riverhead, who said she used to drive Mr. Hampton to basketball practice with her son, David, when both attended Riverhead High School. “He was such a wonderful, sweet kid. A very nice child with a beautiful smile.”
According to Ms. Fitzgerald, Mr. Hampton always had a smile on his face. When picking up Mr. Hampton and her son after basketball practice, she always remembered Mr. Hampton joking around in the backseat with her son.
“They would have their little moments and they would crack up about something from practice,” she said. “I wouldn’t have a clue what was so funny, but he had that beautiful smile.”
Family and friends also said they will remember Mr. Hampton as a hero who died protecting his family after two masked gunmen broke into the Priscilla Avenue home where he was staying temporarily early in the morning on January 27. During the home invasion, which was called in to Southampton Town Police at approximately 3:15 a.m., Mr. Hampton confronted the armed robbers, which led to a scuffle, according to other residents of the house.
Mr. Hampton was shot in the chest near the front door and was later pronounced dead at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. No arrests have been made in his murder. Suffolk County Police have declined to say how many shots were fired, or whether the murder weapon has been recovered, citing the ongoing investigation.
During the funeral mass, the Reverend T.J. Williams of the First Church of God in Christ in Bridgehampton, which was Mr. Hampton’s childhood parish, said he hopes that the state’s tighter gun control laws, most of which will take effect later this year, will prevent similar senseless killings in the future.
Sevaun Eure, 19, who had been friends with Mr. Hampton for six years, said he will miss his friend. He said he often played basketball with Mr. Hampton, who was always making him laugh.
“He was always such a happy person,” Mr. Eure said. “I don’t understand how this happened. It is a shame I have to be here for his funeral.”
Mr. Hampton was buried at Southampton Cemetery immediately following the 11 a.m. funeral mass. A memorial service was also conducted on Monday morning on the eastern campus of Suffolk County Community College.