Friends and family mourn Q111 victim

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Photo gallery

Alisia Gilkes closes her eyes as her husband's coffin is carried out of the funeral home. Photo by Christina Santucci
Marvin Gilkes' niece Shelly holds a photo of him. Photo by Christina Santucci
An NYPD bagpiper played at the start of the service. Photo by Christina Santucci
A mourner comforts Alisia Gilkes (l.). Photo by Christina Santucci
Mourners pay their respects to Marvin Gilkes, who was shot and killed on the Q111 bus. Photo by Christina Santucci
Mourners pay their respects to Marvin Gilkes, who was shot and killed on the Q111 bus. Photo by Christina Santucci

Marvin Gilkes lived his life by always trying to help the people closest to him, according to his friends and family.

During the 36-year-old man’s funeral in St. Albans Dec. 7, members of the congregation said they would continue his legacy of kindness and make sure that the violence that took his life would be stopped. Gilkes, who was buried in his native Trinidad over the weekend, was killed on the Q111 bus Dec. 2 when a gunman opened fire at passengers.

Some of the mourners expressed frustration that he died just because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. But the Rev. Lois Stewart, who presided over the service at the J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home, told Gilkes’ loved ones that their faith has taught them that God has a reason for everything that happens in life.

“We look to the lord,” she said. “Lord, we look to you for your strength and comfort.”

Gilkes had lived in Rochdale village for the last 10 months with his wife Alisia and her two sons, Randy and Christopher. He had moved to Queens from the Caribbean after he married Alisia, whom he had known since they were children, and was studying nursing at Queensborough Community College.

The widow remained silent during the service, but several of the more than 100 people who attended the funeral expressed their support and fond memories of her husband.

Gilkes, who had two siblings and several nieces and nephews, served as a police officer in Trinidad for 16 years and New York’s finest paid tribute to his service with an NYPD bagpiper playing before the service started.

Steve Hines, who served with Gilkes in the Trinidadian police force, said his friend always was in high spirits despite the dangers he faced.

“To know what kind of policeman he was and the life he lived ... it was not easy,” he said as his voice broke.

Sharon Mohammed, a family friend of Marvin and Alisia Gilkes, had not known the slain man as long as his police partner, but she said her life benefited from his generosity. She recalled how he and Alisia helped her when she lost her husband and through their support she was able to regain her equilibrium.

“I know you’re sitting up there smiling and laughing and bopping my husband on the head telling him, ‘Your wife is OK,’” the teary-eyed mourner said.

Mohammed, like many of the other mourners, said they were still in shock at the events that unfolded on the Q111 bus.

Police contend Damel Burton, 34, of the Baisley Houses, killed Gilkes by shooting him in the back of the head and also shot Jajuan Lipsey in the face while they were riding in the back of the bus Friday. Gilkes died at the scene while Lipsey survived.

Burton allegedly murdered Keith Murrell, the 18-year-old son of his girlfriend, hours before he boarded the bus inside the apartment building where he, Murrell and his girlfriend lived, according to investigators.

The suspected shooter, who was recently released from prison after serving a seven-year sentence for an armed robbery conviction, has been held without bail, the DA’s office said.

“That man should never been released from jail in the first place. This is a tragedy,” said one mourner who asked not to be named.

Roselyn Gilkes, Marvin’s aunt, did not express any anger over the murder and urged mourners to work and stop the violence in the community. Her nephew would have asked for nothing else from his loved ones, according to the aunt.

“We have to love one another because we cannot know what will happen,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 2:02 am, December 15, 2011
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