Friends remember teen shot in head, killed

A teen shot and killed on the Northside is just one of many recent violent crimes in the area.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- James Jerimiah Thomas, 14, died after being shot in the head Friday at a community center on the Northside.

Kelvin Allen and his son are friends with Thomas.

"He was a good kid," Allen told First Coast News "It doesn't make any sense."

Allen said Thomas had just finished school at Butler Middle School. Allen said Thomas was set to begin his freshman year at William M. Raines High School in the Fall.

Sgt. Dan Janson. with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said, "I can't say at this point whether he was a targeted individual or if he was just a random victim."

Related: Teen shot and killed Northwest Jacksonville

"When I got the phone call all I could do was drop my head," said Grand Park Community Association President, Lloyd Washington.

He says around 60 people poured into the Johnnie Walker Community Center and Park for a community meeting about a week ago with the purpose of preventing violence in the area.

"We really were trying to say that we did not want this to happen," said Washington.

He tells FCN an officer was even assigned to the area recently, still gunfire erupted in broad daylight at 2 p.m. on Division Street Friday. Sgt. Janson with JSO's Homicide Division says a group of people drove up to the center in a light blue car and fired shots hitting Thomas in the head, then sped off.

It's another sad scene in an area fighting for its safety. In 2010 Johnny Hoover, 28 was killed in a drive-by near Grand Park at 20th and Division streets. His car was filled with bullet holes. JSO says Hoover was a part of the Grand Park Gang.

Related: Grand Park Gang members convicted

"There's a lot of rumors that are flying around," said Janson. "Some are saying it was retaliation from other shootings. Nothing that has been verified at this point."

"It was a Facebook issue and it started from that to shootings to payback time," said Williams.

He says the community association will now begin to meet with young people in the area in the hopes that will help to solve this problem.

Monday, friends laid stuffed animals and flowers at a growing memorial for Thomas.

"I was like dang, now I gotta get some protection for myself, you feel me? If a young person like him died, you don't know who's next," said Marco,16, who is using an alias. Marco lives in Thomas' neighborhood and knew him in passing.

"He was cool, you feel me? Just chill, laid back, I guess." He said.

Kisha Whitehurst also lives in the neighborhood, though she did not know Thomas. She has a teenage daughter.

"It's horrible. It makes me fear for my children's safety," she said. "As a member of our community, it breaks my heart to know that we've lost one of our children."

The shooting happened within JSO's Ceasefire zone. Neighbors speculated why

"It probably is gang-related, which is heartbreaking because we need to teach these kids to come together," Whitehurst said.

Police could not confirm if this shooting was gang-related, however this is an active murder investigation.

According to our news partner, the Florida Times-Union, Thomas was the seventh teenager killed among Jacksonville's 66 homicides this year.

"Someone needs to step forward and say what happened so that at least this young man's parents can know peace," Whitehurst said.

"I just hope they find who killed their family members," said "Marco."

Police have not provided a full description of the suspects' car, only that it was light blue. If you have any helpful info call crime stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.


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