15-Year-Old Killed in Possible Hate Crime

James Means was shot after bumping into a white man in West Virginia
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2016 3:29 AM CST
William Pulliam   (Mugshot)
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(Newser) – The 62-year-old white man who police say gunned down a black teenager Monday in Charleston, West Virginia, may be charged with a federal hate crime, the AP reports. Fifteen-year-old James Means was walking down the street when he bumped into William Pulliam, and the two got into a verbal argument. Pulliam went into a nearby store, but the argument resumed when Pulliam later walked by James and his friends, who were sitting on a porch. James crossed the street to confront Pulliam, and Pulliam shot him twice, police say. According to WCHS, Pulliam claims James had a gun. And the Huffington Post reports Pulliam "felt threatened." But police say the teen was unarmed, according to Metro News.

Police say a remorseless Pulliam confessed to killing James, saying: "The way I look at it, that's another piece of trash off the street." Police say Pulliam got dinner then went to a friend's house after killing James. Police found a gun at Pulliam's friend's house. Pulliam was convicted of domestic violence and can't legally own a gun. One of James' friends describes Pulliam as a "real bad guy" who uses race-based insults. Pulliam was charged with murder Tuesday, and authorities are trying to figure out if the killing qualifies as a federal hate crime. James' family, who remembered him as someone who "could put a smile on anybody's face, no matter the situation," asked the community to practice forgiveness and trust the authorities to get justice for him, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports. (Read more hate crime stories.)

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