MANATEE — As authorities continued searching Monday for the gun that killed a Bayshore High School cheerleader, her family and community leaders called for greater vigilance and communication by parents against gun violence.
Angry at the latest shooting death involving a Manatee County youth, a Manatee County commissioner and a school board member are urging parents to have “serious discussions” with their children about guns in the aftermath of Jasmine Thompson’s death.
“The way these young people are killing each other with guns ... it just burns me up,” said commission chairwoman Gwendolyn Brown, who plans to join school board member Barbara Harvey at a news conference today to issue their plea. “Parents need to step up and say, ‘This is not the life I want for my child.’”
Thompson, a senior, died shortly after being shot once in the head while sitting in the back seat of a friend’s car Friday night. Daniel F. Williams, 18, of Palmetto, has been charged with second-degree murder in her death.
Investigators have not released a motive for the shooting outside Southeast High School’s football stadium. Nor have they recovered what they believe was the revolver that Williams fired at the car that Thompson was sitting in, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman David Bristow said.
“We don’t know where he got the gun. He wouldn’t say,” Bristow said of Williams, who remains jailed without bond.
Thompson’s death was the second tragedy to strike Bayshore in a month. DeJuan Williams, a recent graduate, died Aug. 4 after being shot during an altercation in his backyard. A 16-year-old boy has been charged with murder in his death.
Crisis counselors will be at Bayshore when the school reopens today after the long holiday weekend, schools spokeswoman Margi Nanney said. School officials also will begin planning a memorial service for Thompson that likely will be held later in the week.
“I’m sure the school will allow the students’ wishes to honor her memory,” Nanney said.
Brown said greater parental involvement is needed to avoid a repeat of Thompson and DeJuan Williams’ deaths, as well as the May 2007 shooting death of 9-year-old Stacy Williams III from a stray bullet fired by a passing gang member. That includes checking their children’s rooms, cars, backpacks and other belongings for guns.
“They (parents) need to realize, the moment you bring your child into this world, you have the responsibility to teach them right from wrong,” she said.
Although authorities said Daniel Williams’ last known address was in the Parkside subdivision, neighbors said the house had been vacant for several weeks. A car parked in front of the house had a code-enforcement violation notice dated Aug. 3 affixed to the back window.
Court records show a bank sued Aug. 17 to foreclose on the house, which is owned by a Longboat Key couple.
Thompson’s funeral has been set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Happy Gospel Church, 1915 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton. Community donations, including money raised from a car wash held by Bayshore High students, will help defray the cost.
Thompson’s extended family said it appreciated the outpouring of support, and echoed Brown in hoping the teenager’s death will spur greater prevention of youth gun violence.
“We hope something positive comes out of this,” said Aretha James, her grandmother. “People need to wake up and stop this.”