MANATEE — Students and family members gathered around the football field at Bayshore High School on Thursday morning to remember a teen gunned down just outside his home Tuesday night.
Teens sobbed as they reflected on the life of Dejuan Williams, a recent graduate, who many remembered for his bright smile.
“I’m going to miss Dejuan. He was my backbone. Ya’ll keep your heads up,” said Kiki Washington, Williams’ mother, speaking to teens.
Williams was killed just before 10 p.m. Tuesday after he came home to find his 14-year-old sister had two boys inside the house. Williams’ parents did not allow boys over when his younger sister was home alone.
Williams saw a back window was broken out and he began looking around when he saw one of the boys, reportedly 16-year-old Byron Galloway hiding behind a shed in the backyard, according to Sheriff’s Office reports.
Williams, who had a baseball bat, confronted Galloway. Galloway said he was sorry and then allegedly brandished a gun and shot Williams in the chest, according to reports.
Galloway was arrested on murder charges and booked at the Juvenile Assessment Center on Wednesday. The state attorney’s office has 21 days from the date of his arrest to determine whether Galloway will be charged as an adult.
Family members declined to comment at Galloway’s residence Thursday.
Detectives have not made any more arrests in the case and are investigating how Galloway obtained the gun.
In the meantime, family and friends continued to mourn Williams.
Roses were spread on his blue Buick Thursday afternoon at his house.
At the memorial, candles, high school mementos and photos were set up around the track on tables.
The items were surrounded by small tea candles. Williams’ hat from a school dance had a small flower next to it. “He’s in God’s hands now. He’s happy,” Washington said to teens.
The memorial was organized by Mariah Ward, Williams’ girlfriend, who contacted the school, teachers and staff. Teens spread the word through MySpace and via texts.
“Today was a very hard day, but a great way to celebrate your short life,” wrote Nikki Bekkerus on Williams’ Myspace page.
“So many people were there for you. You brought us all together. It was a beautiful thing. I miss you so much. We made bracelets for you, hope you like them.”
Others still struggled to make sense of what happened. “Dejuan, I thought hard about the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ asking myself what possibly could be the reason God would take such an amazing person from us when there really are not many left?” wrote Rachael Carmichael on Williams’ Myspace page.
“I have come to the conclusion that God decided you were to much of an amazing person for this Earth, and he need- ed you by his side to help make sure everyone here you care about is okay. You were everyone’s rock and kept everyone going, and you will continue to do so.”