Hundreds mourn Cambria Heights family

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Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday to pay their respects to the family found murdered in Cambria Heights earlier this month, and shouts of hallelujah rose up as speakers promised earthly or heavenly justice for the crime.

Carren Chambers, 34; her husband, Larie Barnes, 40; and her sister Tisha Chambers, 21, were remembered at a memorial service Saturday at the Church of the Firstborn on Merrick Boulevard in Laurelton.

The couple's 13-year-old son, Kadeem, found his aunt, who had been shot in the head when he came home from school June 9. When the police arrived at Carren Chambers' and Barnes' Cambria Heights home, they discovered the couple had been shot as well.

Police were still searching for a motive in the shooting, and no arrests had been made as of Tuesday, police said.

The triple ceremony was marked by soulful prayers and gospel songs as the Chambers sisters and Barnes were laid out in white caskets topped with arrangements of red roses at the front of the packed church.

An afternoon thunderstorm that raged during the service could not compete with the anguish the families, including Kadeem, felt, said James Blake, a community activist and Democratic district leader.

"All the raindrops outside could not match the tears shed in this community," he said. "The thunder outside cannot match the sorrow of this family."

But Blake urged the family to take solace in the knowledge that justice will be served, be it on earth or in heaven.

"God knows everything," he said. "The police will do their best to get justice here. We know God will bring justice to this family."

Carren Chambers, who emigrated from the island of Jamaica in 1984, was remembered for her ability to balance her work as an accountant and her family life. Chambers attended LaGuardia Community College before continuing on to York College in Jamaica for her bachelor's degree in accounting. She was working toward her master's when she was killed.

Gregory, Chambers' first child, read a letter he wrote to her after her death, recalling her tough but tender love, her traditional Jamaican cooking and her penchant for listening to Al Green as she cleaned their home in Hollis, where they lived before Chambers moved to Cambria Heights.

"I would love it when my friends said, 'Your mom is cool, she's so funny,'" Gregory Chambers said. "I liked it best when they said how pretty you were. You were my cool, funny and pretty mother, and no one else's."

Tisha Chambers, who lived in Jamaica and was visiting her sister at the time of the shootings, was preparing to start law school this fall.

"Tisha had a great future in front of her," said the Rev. Joshua Cox, who presided over the service. "It is sad to see someone would dare snap out the life of such a person when they had so much ahead of them."

Barnes, who came to the United States from Jamaica in the early '80s, was mourned as a determined businessman who helped anchor a commercial stretch in Crown Heights, where he opened his hardware store.

"As a hardworking person, he started his own business, Barnes Discount Hardware Store, which was very successful," his son Ricardo said. "His knowledge of all things, nuts and bolts, was an integral part of the close-knit block of merchants in Crown Heights."

The three bodies were to be flown to Jamaica for burial.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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