Community says goodbye to Joe McKnight

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Former John Curtis standout and ex-NFL player Joe McKnight will be laid to rest today.

Funeral services will be held for McKnight, 28, at 11 a.m. at New Home Ministries Church.

Visitation is under way right now. Many people have visited the church to pay their respects.

McKnight, a Kenner native, was shot and killed at a busy intersection in Terrytown the afternoon of Dec. 1.

His shooter, Ronald Gasser, 54, was arrested days later for manslaughter.

McKnight was shot three times, once in the finger, once in the shoulder and once directly under his nipple. Bullets punctured his lung and went through his liver.

He played football for John Curtis Christian School, the University of Southern California, the New York Jet, the Kansas City Chiefs, and most recently for two Canadian Football League teams.

Hundreds of people came out to pay their respects Monday morning. WGNO spoke with people attending the funeral services:

"I'm just out here to support the family, because it was just a very tragic situation, that should have never occurred and I don't know the family, but my heart goes out to them. I was very, very terrified about what happened, it was uncalled for and it broke my heart," said Phyllis Johnson of the West Bank.

"When we heard about the news, it was just shock. Unbelievable. Just deeply depressed for his wife his kids. The rest of the family. Words cannot describe the loss," said Nathaniel Dillings, family of McKnight. "You can take the guns out of the cars and the houses but if you don't the guns out of those hearts of people. People have just gotten away from God and that's why there's murders taking place, the rage is taking place and the devastation.

"The battle is far from being over, this organization [NAACP] will stand behind what is justice. And the charges are charges we are not going to accept. I am going to be focusing on the Lord to give us strength to get through this. It's not easy," said Gaylor Spiller, president of the NAACP Jefferson Parish Chapter.

Watch an interview with Joe McKnight's brother, Jonathan McKnight, here: