Little Girl Remembered on What Would Have Been 6th Birthday

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Family photo

Family photo

CLEVELAND-- Dozens of people braved the numbing, sub-zero temperatures in front of a little girl's home on Cleveland's west side to celebrate a birthday she never lived to see.

"We miss Jermani. We love her. It's her birthday," her grandmother, Ethel Phillips, said.

Friends, family, and even strangers brought pink balloons, cards and teddy bears, all presents for Jermani Brooks, on what would have been her sixth birthday.

Jermani was shot and killed Sunday night when a gunman opened fire into the SUV she was sitting in with her family.

Her mother, Noni Brooks, was also shot in the head and seriously injured.

The crowd sang 'Happy Birthday' to Jermani and launched hundreds of pink balloons into the sky.

Balloons released in honor of Jermani Brooks on 1/23/14

Balloons released in honor of Jermani Brooks on 1/23/14

Because of the frigid cold, the vigil then moved indoors to a nearby church.

Jerman's mother, Noni Brooks, wearing bandages over part of her injured face, walked down the aisle and was greeted with tears and applause.

She did not speak to the crowd, but sat silently up front, her face partially wrapped in bandages.

"It has been overwhelming. You never imagine yourself walking in these shoes," Phillips said.

Earlier Thursday, Geoffrey Gurkovich, 32, the man charged with killing Jermani and shooting Noni, appeared in court for the first time.

The judge set Gurkovich’s bond at $5 million.

Police said the Brooks family was not his intended target.

A donation fund has been set up under Jermani Brooks' name at any KeyBank.

(Read more stories here.)

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