Every seat at Johnson Funeral Home and Chapel on Monday was filled.

More than 200 family members and friends attended the funeral of Ishma Stewart. The 20-year-old Oak Park and River Forest High School graduate was shot to death on May 4 while sitting in a car on Chicago’s South Side. The Loyola University student died of multiple gunshot wounds, an unintended victim of a gang-related shooting, police say.

At her funeral, people unable to find a seat were lined up along the walls and in the aisles of the chapel at 5838 W. Division in Chicago. Many others were seated or standing in an adjacent foyer.

Family friend LaShawn Hollingsworth grew up with Ishma’s parents, Tracy Polk and Mancill Stewart Jr. He remembers when Ishma was born. Hollingsworth and other family members remembered her as someone who made friends easily and liked to make others laugh.

Hollingsworth spoke at her funeral, denouncing the violence and shootings in the community.

“All this violence needs to stop,” he said. “You got parents out here burying their children. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s time to get back with family. We need to get back to family values and all sitting down together to have dinner every night. We need to instill this in our kids.”

Family friend Anthony Moore also grew up with her parents. He was Uncle Tony to Ishma, and was at the hospital with the family when she was born.

“I remember her when she was like this,” he said, hovering his hand just above his waist. “That was our baby. I last saw her when she was young. She was a beautiful person.”

Fighting back tears, Stewart’s aunt, Izola Wright, also spoke out against the violence in Chicago’s communities.

“We have to do something about all this foolishness,” she said, fighting through tears. “We know who is doing all this killing. They are our neighbors. They live where we live, and we have to start turning them in,” she said. “I’m still waiting for God to give me insight into why this happened.”

Darius Brooks, a Grammy Award winning gospel artist and an Austin native, sang at Ishma’s funeral and tried to answer Wright’s question by saying “God has a plan for all of us and he had a plan for Ishma.”

Stewart, of the 5000 block of South Drexel, was killed late Sunday May 4 at 48th and Indiana on the South Side. The college junior was set to graduate this December from Loyola with a degree in journalism.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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