HOUSTON — Nine-year-old Arlene Alvarez was laid to rest Friday in an emotional ceremony that celebrated the joyful, energetic girl she was.
The funeral, which took place at Grace Church Houston, started with church melodies, in both English and Spanish, before several speakers took the stage to speak about the young girl who was shot to death while she and her family were headed to a Valentine's Day dinner.
"Arlene was a loving, energetic sweet girl," said one of the speakers. "A caregiver, she loved kids, and was always helping mommy with her little brothers."
Arlene was the oldest of three. She had two younger brothers, the youngest is 5 months old.
During the funeral, Arlene was described as a young girl who was always adding comfort to those who needed it, especially her family.
"Family was everything to her. She loved her parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncle, and godparents," another speaker said.
Arlene also loved animals. Those who knew her said she wanted to be a vet or doctor of some sort.
At the end of the service, Arlene's mother spoke about how close she and her oldest baby were.
"We bonded with work, school, social media," said Gwen Alvarez. "You were my movie buddy, you would always love matching with me. You were a great sister, you took your role really well, and baby for that you will be missed."
Watch the entire funeral service below:
A bullet struck Arlene in the head on Valentine's Day as she and her family were headed to Spanky's Pizza for dinner. She was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead a day later.
"As a dad, she passed away in my arms. Something not really to brag about or talk about but I saw her come in and I saw her leave, I can tell you that," Arlene's father said the week it happened.
The community has rallied around the Alvarez family with fundraisers and even a trail ride in her honor.
You can read tributes to Arlene here.
Tony Earls has been charged with aggravated assault with severe bodily injury in connection with Alvarez's death.
Surveillance video released this week shows the armed robbery of Earls and his wife that led up to the shooting of Arlene. Earls said the robber shot at him and he returned fire.
Earls has since posted a $100,000 bond and has been released from jail.