William Pulliam, 62, a white man, fatally shot James Means, a black 15-year-old in West Virginia. Pulliam said, “I felt like my life was in danger.”
Now the shooting is being investigated by federal authorities as a hate crime.
The shooting occurred outside of a Dollar General store in East Charleston on Monday. Authorities reported that the shooting happened after the two bumped into each other. They reportedly exchanged words just before Pulliam walked into the store and once more when he walked out. Means sat nearby with his friends for the duration of Pulliam’s shopping trip.
According to Pulliam’s account of the incident, Means approached him while displaying a gun. Pulliam then shot Means.
Pulliam later said that he feared for his life.
After shooting Means, Pulliam left the scene, ate dinner and visited a friend.
Pulliam was charged with murder in the first degree. “I don’t like it,” he said, feeling that he had no other choice. “I mean, believe me, I did not want to kill anybody, but they’re not going to kill me.”
“The way I look at it, I took another piece of trash off the street,” he allegedly told officers. He denied making the comment in a later interview.
“I don’t care if they’re white or black,” he said, denying that the shooting was racially motivated. “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 here is black. I get along with all of them, ask them.”
He made the case for himself, saying, “I work. I’m a good citizen. I don’t do anything to anybody, never have done anything to anybody.”
Nafia Adkins, Means’ mother, has asked that the shooting investigation be left to the authorities. “We know that justice is going to succeed in this matter,” she said.
Authorities have not yet announced whether or not Means was armed. A revolver was found in the house of Pulliam’s friend. Pulliam was not cleared to legally posses a firearm, the result of a domestic battery conviction.
A candlelight vigil was held for Means on Wednesday. He had gotten involved with a local career development organization with aspirations to own his own business.
(H/T NY Daily News)