CHARLESTON, WV (AP) – A black teenager fatally shot after police say he bumped into a 62-year-old white man is being remembered as a funny, smart and a good friend.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports (http://bit.ly/2fJq3Is) that two vigils were held Wednesday for 15-year-old James Means. Police say he was shot in Charleston by William Pulliam who showed no remorse, telling investigators “that’s another piece of trash off the street.”
Pulliam, in a jail interview with WCHS-TV, denied making that statement, saying he shot the teenager in self-defense because he felt threatened and that race had nothing to do with it.
According to city police, the teen was shot Monday evening at an intersection and taken by ambulance to a Charleston hospital, where he was pronounced dead from two gunshot wounds.
Two friends who were with Means said they got into an argument with Pulliam after the older man allegedly bumped into Means in front of a Dollar General. Pulliam went into the store, and walked past them again when he exited, NBC News reports.
The boys, who were standing in front of a house, told investigators they argued with Pulliam again. One of the friends said Means crossed the street to confront Pulliam, who then shot him twice.
Obi Henderson, director of the nonprofit Dreams Community Development Corporation, said that James had attended weekly meetings with a youth group called the Dream Chasers to learn about communication skills and career development tools.
“James’ name is not something that should be forgotten,” Henderson said. “His life was stolen from him.”
“It’s important that we come together and unify people, and ensure that these young people do not continue to see their friends killed in the streets,” Henderson said. “Not only by their elders, like this gentleman, but each other.”
Penni Padget, who called Means’ smile “infectious,” said steps need to be taken to avoid similar incidents in the future.
“We’ve got to do something different, because it might be James today, but it (could) be somebody else tomorrow,” Padgett said. “His life mattered to us.”
Thirteen-year-old James Cooper witnessed the shooting on Monday.
“James was a good friend to me,” he said. “He always came up with ideas of what to do and how to make it fun.”