In Charleston, WV, a 62-year-old man has been charged with first degree murder after shooting a black teenager and is being held without bond.
James Means, 15, bumped into William Pulliam outside of a Dollar General and exchanged words before walking to his friend’s house nearby. After leaving the store, Pulliam walked toward the house, where Means and his friends were sitting on the porch. During a brief argument, Means walked acoss the street to confront his assailant.
Pulliam pulled a .38 caliber revolver on the young boy and shot him twice in the abdomen.
Means was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Pulliam claims that the boys were taunting him from the porch and that Means had a gun on him when the two bumped into each other outside the dollar store. He also said that he felt threatened by the boys.
“The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street,” Pulliam told investigators.
While Charleston police have not confirmed whether or not Means had a gun during the altercation, they did confirm that Pulliam was carrying a gun illegally.
In 2013, Pulliam faced charges of domestic battery after punching his daughter in the face and kicking her in the stomach while she was pregnant. He also shoved his wife, drawing blood from her elbow. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted. Pulliam pleaded no contest to one account of domestic battery and the other count was dropped. He was sentenced to 36 days in jail, which was suspended after six days in lieu of one year’s probation. As a result, Pulliam is not legally allowed to own firearms.
This isn’t the first incident that Pulliam has had with children of color, either. Teonno White, a 14-year-old boy who happened to be friends with James Means, walked to Pulliam’s home one day to ask him to stop picking on his younger brother.
“He said I need to go on with my nappy Latino self,” recalled White. “He’s just a real bad guy.”
Pulliam said that race had nothing to with why he shot the boy.
“I did say this, now I’ll admit this, I said ‘what is wrong with black people today?'” said Pulliam. “I’m not trying to be Donald Trump or anything but anybody here will have to say that there’s something going wrong here in the world now with black and white.”
James Means’s aunt, Teresa Means, said that her nephew was a loving person who “could put a smile on anybody’s face, no matter the situation.”
Means’s family has asked the community not to post hateful messages on social media.
“We know that justice is going to succeed in this matter,” said Nafia Adkins, Means’s mother. “We’re just not going to put it in our hands, we’re going to let the law put it in their hands…We all have to forgive and let everything take its place.”
Pulliam’s preliminary hearing took place on Dec. 1. Magistrate Mike Sisson deemed that there was probable cause to send the trial to a grand jury.