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Boy, 15, killed while defending grandmother

6:29 PM, Nov 13, 2013   |    comments
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- When a 15-year-old boy was killed last week, he was defending his grandmotheragainst two armed men who broke into his home looking for someone else, she said.

"He did everything he could, he was saving me, he was so small, he was saving me," said Pearl Williams, TySean Williams' grandmother who raised him since he was a baby.

On Nov. 6, TySean was shot when the men went to the Rochester, N.Y., home, knocked on the door and then forced their way inside.

Since then, two men have been charged in the shooting; a childhood friend has started a petition in TySean's name to address gun violence in the Rochester community; and the mayor-elect has visited with Williams.

TySean was the city's 33rd homicide this year; a shooting Tuesday became the 34th.

Williams, who said she was grateful for both the arrests and the petition, said that on the day of the shooting, her grandson had participated in MasterMinds, an academic competition for high school students, before she picked him up to take him to church, which they attended every week. They'd been home about an hour when they heard a knock at their door about 9 p.m.

"The door was unlocked and I heard the knock. I saw the bottom lock start to shake. I said 'Who is it?' and I tried to lock it, then they pushed the door and I was pushing back and I said 'Oh god, oh god, help me, help me, oh god,' and there was two of them and one of me.

"The one with the gun got his hand through the door and pointed the gun at me, that's when my baby ran out of his room and he pushed the guy with the gun into my cabinet, and he pushed him so hard I thought I heard a crack, but when TySean turned around to see if I was OK the guy kind of got his composure ... and he pushed TySean into my stove and he got his gun and he went 'bang, bang, bang' and he shot him. And he pushed the door again and shot him again."

The men then fled, and Williams said she tried to call 911 but she couldn't at first.

"My baby crawled into my dining room behind me. And I said "oh god, oh god you've got to dial 911 for me, you've got to do it.' I don't know how I dialed 911."

As they waited for an ambulance, Williams said TySean, shot at least twice, was in agony and called out to her to help him. As the ambulance crew worked on him and prepared him for going to the hospital, he again reached out to his grandmother.

"They were trying to put him on that little flat thing cause he was trying to roll off of that to come to me, and I was trying to bend down to get to him," she said. "Two people had to hold his legs because he was trying to get off."

A short time later, TySean's family, including his mother, Shuane Williams, with whom TySean also lived occasionally, was told he was not going to live.

Police said the next morning that TySean was not the intended target, but the attack also was not random.

Since, then, two Rochester men, Pedro Diaz, 18, and Taiquan L. Elmore, 22, have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the homicide, said Rochester Deputy Police Chief Mike Wood.

Diaz and Elmore both pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning in City Court and were taken to the Monroe County Jail where they were held without bail.

TySean was an honor-roll student at Wheatland-Chili High School. His family said he wanted to be a video game and Web designer; in sixth-grade he picked out Rochester Institute of Technology as the college he wanted to attend.

He "was not the intended target, but a horrible set of circumstances led to his death," said Assistant District Attorney Perry Duckles.

Duckles declined to share details about the investigation.

The only other person home at the time of the shooting was Pearl Williams' son, Shea Williams, who is TySean's uncle. He was upstairs in his room at the time, Pearl Williams said.

TySean's father, Cornelius Portis, sat through the arraignment Tuesday and said the arrests meant "a little relief" for his family.

"I had to be here for (my son) today," Portis said. "TySean, he was a good kid. ... He was taken for nothing."

Portis said he did not know or recognize Diaz and Elmore, but "I hope they get what they deserve."

A childhood friend of TySean's started a MoveOn.org petition called "Strengthen Gun Trafficking Laws: Remembering TySean." Starmeshia Jones hopes it will draw awareness to gun violence past the time TySean's name is no longer in the news.

"We kind of pay attention to these deaths as long as they're in the media and then it fades to black and nobody really takes the time to be proactive and find out what we can do at the community level," said Jones, who grew up near TySean's home and now lives in Indianapolis.

"This kid who was only protecting his grandmother, doing what he thought was the right thing, and was killed because of that, and I just think that we can all be sad about it now, and then next week we just go on with our lives. It's just a vicious cycle."

A few hours before TySean was killed, he told his grandmother that he could have answered more questions in the MasterMind competition, but he was quiet and shy.

"I told him 'you're getting there, you're getting there'," Pearl Williams said, smiling. "He was a bookworm. He was quiet, but he was so smart. I was so proud of him."

Contributing: Victoria E. Freile, Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle


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