Racial tensions have been thick since the election of Donald Trump on November 8th. Those individuals who resent marginalized people seem emboldened by the prospects of Trump’s leadership. The shooting death of an unarmed Black teen on the East End of Charleston, West Virginia on Monday is yet another tragic case where racism and violence resulted in the loss of Black life.
William Ronald Pulliam is a 62-year-old man who was not allowed to own a gun due to a previous domestic violence conviction, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Even with this conviction, Pulliam shot 15-year-old James Harvey Means twice in the abdomen with a .380 caliber revolved, an act he made just before going to dinner at the home of a female friend for the evening.
Police found the gun allegedly used to kill Means at the woman’s home, according to a report filed by Charleston Police Detective C.C. Lioi.
When questioned by police, Pulliam admitted to killing Means and expressed no remorse, saying “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street,” according to a criminal complaint filed by the Kanawha County Magistrate Court.
According to eye witness accounts, Pulliam and Means got into an altercation outside of a Dollar General store at 8:45 pm on Monday evening. Witnesses saw the two exchange words after bumping into one another. After that interaction, Pulliam entered the store and Means and several others went to the home of a friend’s grandmother and sat on the porch.
Witnesses say that Pulliam exited the store and walked past the teen when they exchanged words again.
During the argument, Means crossed the street to pursue Pulliam. It was then that Pulliam shot Means twice, according to the criminal complaint. Means died of his wounds shortly after arriving at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby, Charleston police authorities are working with the federal government to verify whether or not this shooting qualifies as a hate crime since Pulliam is white and Means was Black.
“That review is in its early stages, and the fact that a review is being conducted should not be taken as any indication of what the review’s outcome will be,” Ruby said to NBC News.
Pulliam now faces first-degree murder charges.
In a later interview with WCHS, a local ABC News station, Pulliam explained that he felt threatened and was worried that the kids might kill him.
“I felt my life was in danger. I’m sorry, but I’m 62 years old. I’m not going to take a bunch of punks beating me up,” Pulliam said.
He also denied calling Means “trash” saying “It doesn’t make any difference if he’s black,” Pulliam said. “My God, everybody I live around over there is black. I get along with all of them, ask them.”
*This story will be updated as news of this tragedy develops.*
Photo via Means Family