On Monday morning November 21 in Charleston, WV 15 year old James Means life was cut short in a shooting death by 62 year old William Pulliam in an alleged confrontation on the street.
William Pulliam confessed to shooting James Means, 15, with a .380 caliber revolver in the capital city of Charleston on Monday, saying he felt threatened by the boy, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court. “Mr. Pulliam expressed no remorse,” the complaint, written by a Charleston police detective, said.
When Pulliam was arrested police detectives quoted Pulliam as saying, “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street.” James Means is a black teenager and is Pulliam a white man. Under West Virginia Code 21 this offense would constitute as a hate crime.
The code clearly states the following; All persons within the boundaries of the state of West Virginia have the right to be free from any violence, or intimidation by threat of violence, committed against their persons or property because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation or sex.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby said federal authorities have been asked to determine if the shooting can be prosecuted as a hate crime. Pulliam is white, and Means was black.
It is time for Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller to step up to the plate. If the words uttered by William Pulliam are true, than this clearly a hate crime. From all accounts Means and Pulliam did not know each other at all and usually when a white person calls a person of color trash it is based on the color of their skin color.
This past America has listen to a hate filled presidential election campaign with racist rhetoric used at Donald Trump rallies. This racist tone and Trump winning the nomination has fired up White Nationalist and Neo Nazi’s. The Southern Poverty Law Group which tracks hate crimes, says it has logged more than 200 complaints since the election.
The FBI’S Uniform Crime Reporting division also released its annual “Hate Crimes Statistics” report, tracking the number of bias-motivated incidents reported to law enforcement officials in 2015. The number of hate crimes rose 6 percent in 2015, according to the report, and the vast majority (59 percent) of victims were targeted because of their race or ethnicity.
As of yesterday Pulliam gave a jailhouse interview with a local news station WCHS “I felt my life was in danger,” he told the station. “I’m sorry, but I’m 62 years old. I’m not going to take a bunch of punks beating me up.”
Friends of the victim told police that Pulliam and Means bumped each other outside a Dollar General store on Washington Street East in Charleston, according to the complaint.
Words were exchanged but Pulliam entered the store.
When Pulliam came back outside, one of Means’ friends said, the teen and the older man again had a “verbal dispute,” the complaint said.
Means crossed the street to confront Pulliam, who fired two shots at the teenager, according to the friend.
Pulliam told WCHS that he saw three teens outside a house as he was walking to the store. They were laughing, he said. One of them cursed him when he got closer.
“What the … did you say to me?” Pulliam recalled asking the teenager.
The teen flashed a gun, Pulliam told the station. The friends encouraged Means to shoot but Pulliam continued into the store.
Pulliam said in the interview that he walked on the other side of the street when he left the store to avoid trouble but that Means approached him and taunted him with a gun.
“I just shot him,” Pulliam told the station.
He added, “I work. I’m a good citizen. I don’t do anything to anybody.” Pulliam said race did not factor into the confrontation. He is white, Means was black.
“I don’t care if they’re white or black,” he told WCHS.
“Nobody is going to do me like that. It doesn’t make any difference if he’s black. My God, everybody I live around over there is black. I get along with all of them. Ask them.”
Obi Henderson who runs a non-profit in Charleston to help young teens knew James Means, described the teenager as “mild-mannered.”
“James means was not a gang member,” Henderson told CNN Saturday. “He was not walking around in the streets trying to promote violence and wreak havoc on people. That wasn’t the type of person that he was. He was an honest, humble, very respectful young man.”
No gun has been found on the shooting victim Means, as police still investigate.
If this is true and there is no evidence of Means carrying a fire arm or starting the confrontation the DA needs to send a message loud clear and charge Pulliam with a hate crime. At a time when the nation is in a deep divide on race relations a message needs to be sent that hatred will not be tolerated.
We will keep you posted on this story as more news develops.