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Hundreds attend funeral for Hamilton teen slain outside school

Hamilton·Updated

Hundreds of people attended a funeral in Hamilton on Saturday for a 14-year-old boy stabbed to death outside of his school.

Photos of Devan Bracci-Selvey sit among stuffed animals, flowers and messages of support at a makeshift memorial outside the 14-year-old's Hamilton home.(Dan Taekema/CBC)

More than 300 people attended a funeral in Hamilton on Saturday for a 14-year-old boy stabbed to death outside of his school.

Devan Bracci-Selvey was described as a goofy kid with a big heart, who would rather sing Life is a Highway than his ABCs, who let his sisters paint his face in makeup, who enjoyed running through the mall playing tag with his best friend, rescuing animals with his mom and hanging out with his grandma.

Those memories were shared by his family and friends, who packed into Stoney Creek United Church for the 14-year-old's funeral.

Mourners wore pink ribbons to the funeral as a statement against bullying. (Joana Draghici/CBC)

"This may sound a little odd, but I want to give you permission today to laugh, because that's what Devan did," said Rev. Cal Stafford in his opening remarks.

"You are not defined by what happened on Monday," he continued later in the service. "You are defined by your response to what happened on Monday."

Stafford listed three things he asked mourners to take away from how Devan lived his life: his love for his family, friends and animals.

Some mourners came dressed in pink as a statement against bullying — a sentiment that has been heard throughout Hamilton's community all week.

A pink ribbon was also tied to the back of a hearse parked in front of the Stoney Creek United Church, where the funeral took place.

His wooden casket stood partly covered by a white T-Shirt with purple writing, that read "Stop Bullying."

'I just wish I got to spend more time with him'

Both of Devan's parents were too emotional to speak at the service, but his sisters read what they had written.

His mother said she will miss his random hugs and 'I love yous' and still remembers holding Devan for the first time in the hospital after he was born.

His dad said his son was a dreamer, who lived life on his own terms and could walk into any room and brighten it.

"He was a great kid, gone too soon," said his brother TJ Bracci, while fighting tears outside the church. "Today we remember Devan for who he was, a great soul."

Bracci said the two had a good relationship and Devan always looked to him "to protect him."

"I wish I could have done more."

Watch: Friends remember Devan Bracci-Selvey

Funeral for slain 14-year-old held in Hamilton on Saturday, with many mourners wearing pink to symbolize anti-bullying.1:25

Devan was stabbed to death outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in the city's east end Monday afternoon.

He was attacked in front of his mother, Shari-Ann Bracci-Selvey, as she tried to come to his rescue after receiving a call from Devan asking her to pick him up because some kids were bothering him.

"He only had a small circle of trust, and if you were in that circle, he would defend you like a family member. He would be like a lioness protecting her cub," said his best friend Michael Mcemtee known to Devan's family as "Mikey."

"I just wish I got to spend more time with him."

Shari-Ann Bracci-Selvey, the mother of Devan Bracci-Selvey, looks on during a procession following her son's funeral service at Stoney Creek United Church in Hamilton. (Tara Walton/Canadian Press)

Outside the church Saturday about 60 vintage cars lined the street with pink ribbons. After the funeral, they drove in procession through the city in tribute the teen, who was an aspiring mechanic with a passion for classic cars.

The funeral was open to the public, but television cameras were not allowed inside.

A visitation was held on Friday.

Devan Bracci-Selvey’s family and friends look on as dozens of classic cars drive by in a procession to the cemetery <a href="https://t.co/XMaHOtTG72">pic.twitter.com/XMaHOtTG72</a>

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Devan bullied since 2nd day of school, mother says

Shari-Ann Bracci-Selvey says her son was the target of bullying since the second day of the school year, when tormentors allegedly stole his bike.

"For a month, we've been trying to get this dealt with," said Selvey, adding that one student had been suspended, but still showed up at school on Monday.

"All schools have the same policies, zero tolerance and zero bullying, and everyone belongs. And it's not true, and no one is held accountable for it, and then stuff like this happens."

In a statement to CBC News, Manny Figueiredo, education director of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, confirmed Devan's mom reported several bullying incidents to school administrators and that the board would be handing that information over to police.

He would not provide any details about the school's response, but said school board officials are co-operating with the police investigation.

Figueiredo added that the board is focusing on supporting students and staff by bringing in social workers, a crisis response team and police liaison officers to walk the school halls.

Anti-bullying messages and symbols as people gather to mourn the death of 14-year-old Devan Bracci-Selvey. <a href="https://t.co/mXBITNFtD4">pic.twitter.com/mXBITNFtD4</a>

&mdash;@JoanaDraghici

Police said they're aware of the incident involving the bike, but said there's currently no information linking the accused in the stabbing to the bike theft.

Investigators were initially hesitant to confirm whether the bullying and the attack were directly connected. On Wednesday, Det.-Sgt. Steve Bereziuk said the bullying aspect of the investigation is "growing."

"We are going to continue to probe the bullying concerns," he said.

Two teens — a 14-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man — have been charged with first-degree murder in Devan's death.

The hearse has arrived for the funeral of Devan-Bracci Selvey, with dozens of classic cars lined up to honour the 14-year-old who loved cars and wanted to be a mechanic <a href="https://t.co/CPwR3mcziQ">pic.twitter.com/CPwR3mcziQ</a>

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Neither can be named due to a publication ban shielding the man's identity and provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act that protect the boys.

Hamilton police have been relatively quiet on the circumstances surrounding the teens death, but Bereziuk has said investigators believe the 14-year-old accused was the one wielding the knife.

He has also alleged there was "some element of pre-planning and premeditation."

Others bullied in Hamilton schools

Trudie Nicholls-Drakerm, who lives in the same areas as Devan's family, attended the funeral to show her support.

She says her daughter, who is now 25 years old, also went to Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School and experienced bullying throughout her four years there.

"She was bullied by gangs of girls, rumours, ostracised," said Nicholls-Decker. "One time she and a teacher were in the school gym, a girl ran into the gym and cold-clocked my daughter right in the face, gave her a black eye and ran out again."

She says the police were called, but her daughter felt pressured not to press charges.

"It was boiled down to two girls in a fight, but it was assault. She was punched right in the face in front of a teacher."

Nicholls-Draker says the other girl involved was suspended for a couple of days, but she thinks there may be better ways the school board can deal with students who bully others.

"There have to be stricter regulations and rules," she said. "Maybe the kids that would have just gotten a suspension, maybe they need to go through some kind of therapeutic training for three days instead of three days at home."

With files from The Canadian Press

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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