Music rang out inside Bethlehem Baptist Church on Sunday morning. The congregation smiled, clapped, and sang in unison. But despite the upbeat sentiment during much of the service, people knew they were missing one of their own.
A day earlier, 22-year-old Naomi Clyburn was killed in her own front yard during a drive-by shooting in North Sarasota that also wounded four other people.
She had been baptized and raised inside Bethlehem Baptist Church, and the church wanted to honor her life.
“It doesn’t matter if you live in Newtown. Violence knows no address,” Pastor Patrick Miller said on Sunday. “There are times when the violence is senseless.”
Naomi’s sister, Crystal Clyburn, wanted to honor her too.
“I will wear her dog tags to the death of me,” Crystal said as she grasped them around her neck.
Naomi and her siblings got matching tattoos before she left to serve in the Army. She had recently taken a local military job so her family could get to know her 8-month-old daughter.
“She said she would sacrifice her life for our country, and someone goes and kills her,” Crystal said. “I promise you I’ll raise my niece like my sister would have raised her. I’ll make sure she’s going to be a soldier like her mom was.”
Beyond the bullet holes left behind in Saturday’s shooting at 30th St. and Leon Avenue, a memorial has been crafted in Naomi’s memory. Teddy bears and candles rest beside a cross with her name etched in it.
Crystal hopes someone will reveal who killed her sister, even if they remain anonymous. She just hopes no one else has to suffer like her family is right now.
“She won’t get to see her child walk, talk, grow up,” Crystal says with tears in her eyes.
Detectives are still looking for who killed Naomi. On Saturday, they recovered the teal Chevy pickup truck that the suspects were driving. Anyone with information is urged to call the Sarasota Police Department at 941-954-7087.