The murder of a black 15-year-old boy by a white man outside a West Virginia dollar store on Monday is being investigated as a hate crime.
William Pulliam, 62, is facing murder charges after confessing to shooting James Means with a .380 caliber revolver in Charleston, claiming he felt “threatened.” According to a criminal complaint, Pulliam “expressed no remorse,” saying “the way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street.” It also says that after he killed Means, Pulliam went home, ate dinner and went to a friend’s house.
The shooting occurred just before 9 p.m. outside a Dollar General, NBC reports:
Two friends who were with Means said they got into an argument with Pulliam after the older man allegedly bumped into Means in front of a Dollar General store. Pulliam went into the store, they said, and after he re-emerged, walked past them on the street.
The boys, standing in front of a house, argued with Pulliam again, the friends told investigators. One of the friends said Means then crossed the street to confront Pulliam. Pulliam then shot Means twice, the friend said.
In an in-jail interview with the station WCHS, Pulliam insisted that it’s not that he wanted to kill anyone, but that he simply wanted to make sure they didn’t kill him. (In a state awash with guns, it’s generally assumed that someone is going to die in every tense encounter. What a great and healthy attitude! Shoot first, ask questions later, amirite?)
“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,” he said.
The situation began when Pulliam saw three kids “looking at him funny” as he approached the Dollar General near his house. One of the boys reportedly cursed at him as he neared, to which Pulliam replied “What the (expletive) did you say to me?” From the station:
Pulliam said James Means flashed a gun at him, and the teenager’s friends were saying Means should shoot him, but nothing happened. Pulliam went on to Dollar General. When he was walking back, he chose to walk on the other side of the street, so he wouldn’t have to go back in front of the house, he said. He said Means saw him, came across the street and started taunting him with the gun.
“I just shot him. I felt my life was in danger,” Pulliam said.
Pulliam is facing first degree murder charges, meaning the twilight years he was so quick to defend will hopefully be spent behind bars.
Meanwhile, Means’ family is mourning their loss. Nafia Adkins, his mother, told the station that her “son is in a safer place now, and we all love him.”
“I’m going to leave everything up to the courts to take care of this man and do whatever they have to do to make him be punished as well as my son had to suffer and my family had to suffer through this,” Adkins said.