A man charged with shooting dead a black 15-year-old on a West Virginia street said he felt his ‘life was in danger’ because the teenager flashed a gun at him first.
William Ronald Pulliam, 62, allegedly shot James Means twice in the abdomen on a street near a Dollar General store in Charleston, West Virginia on Monday night.
Police said Pulliam showed no remorse after his arrest and allegedly said: ‘The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street.’
But in an interview with WCHS from South Central Regional Jail, Pulliam denied making such a claim to police and claimed the shooting had nothing to do with race.
It comes as family and friends held vigils for the slain teenager on Wednesday night.
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William Ronald Pulliam, 62, was charged with shooting dead James Means, 15, in Charleston, West Virginia on Monday. He claims he felt his life was in danger and that Means had a gun
James Means, 15, was shot dead allegedly by William Ronald Pulliam, 62, on a street near a general store in Charleston, West Virginia on Monday night
Witnesses say the pair exchanged words near the store at the corner of Washington and Nancy streets at about 8.45pm when they accidentally bumped into each other.
Pulliam claims Means was with two other boys on the porch of a nearby house and one of them cursed at him as he walked by. He said Means then flashed a gun at him.
When Pulliam came out of the store a short time later, he said he walked on the opposite side the street but claims Means came towards him.
‘I just shot him. I felt my life was in danger,’ Pulliam said.
Police said Pulliam used a .380 caliber revolver to fatally shoot the teenager and he later died at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital.
Pulliam said it was not racially motivated.
‘I don’t care if they’re white or black. Nobody is going to do me like that. It doesn’t make any difference if he’s black. My God, everybody I live around over there is black. I get along with all of them, ask them,’ Pulliam said.
Pulliam has been charged with first degree murder but police said he showed no remorse and allegedly said: ‘The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street’
Witnesses say Means and Pulliam exchanged words outside the store when they accidentally bumped into each other
Scene of the crime: The shooting happened outside a general store in Charleston, West Virginia on Monday night
It comes as friends and family held vigils for the slain teenager on Wednesday night, remembering him as a ‘funny, smart and a good friend’, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.
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. His life was stolen from him,’ Henderson said.
‘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. 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. His life mattered to us,’ Padgett said.
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.’
Friends and family held vigils for the slain teenager on Wednesday night, remembering him as a ‘funny, smart and a good friend’
During his arraignment via video from South Central Regional Jail on Tuesday (pictured), Pulliam was shocked to learn he would have to remain in jail
Police said Pulliam allegedly left Means to die and went home to eat dinner before hanging out at a female friend’s house.
Due to a prior domestic violence conviction in 2013, Pulliam was not supposed to have a gun, the West Virginia Gazette reports.
Pulliam was arrested on Tuesday and charged with first degree murder.
During his arraignment via video from South Central Regional Jail, Pulliam was shocked to learn he would have to remain in jail.
‘I’m going to be in here til December?’ he asked the judge. ‘I’m going to lose my job and everything.’
The FBI is looking at whether the shooting meets the criteria to be considered a hate crime given their races.