PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Students and faculty at White Hall High School said they are heartbroken after an 18-year-old student was shot and killed, less than 24 hours before he was set to graduate.
Ben Redix was a senior at WHHS before he died Thursday night. According to police, 17-year-old Jamari Douglas is behind bars in connection to the shooting. The police report shows it happened in North Little Rock.
It is being investigated as an accidental shooting.
According to the report, Douglas told NLRPD they were in the car as he was stripping down the gun. Douglas said at that point, it accidentally went off and hit Redix, who was in the seat in front of him.
Redix played football and ran track at White Hall as a student. His head football coach, Ryan Mallett, said in all his years of football – whether playing or coaching – he has never experienced anything like this.
“He was actually the first kid I talked to,” Mallett said in an interview Friday. “He said from day one, ‘Coach, whatever you need me to do, I got it.’”
Mallett said Redix was an ideal player and even lived across the street from him.
“I cared for him a lot,” Mallett said. “He was like my son. Anytime he needed something, he called me.”
Redix’s teammates first described him as a good athlete. Redix won state less than two weeks ago in track for triple jump and stepped in for an injured teammate for the 4×1000 relay. That group got 3rd overall with his help.
Redix’s two teammates, Jayden Smith and Landen Meredith, said while Redix was a good athlete, he was a better teammate and friend.
“Early in the season, probably game one, he got a concussion, and he came back probably before he was supposed to because we needed him,” Meredith said. “He came back. I think we won that game, too.”
Smith said he wants people to remember Redix as someone that could be counted on… for a laugh, or for support.
“He made life better by just being around him,” Smith said.
At White Hall’s graduation Friday night, Redix’s mom walked across the field that had likely become a second home for Redix. She received the diploma for him – one night after his death.
Meredith said the team is still in shock, though it reminds them of an important message for the future.
“Just teaches you… you got to say, ‘I love you,’” Meredith said. “You never know. You never know what is going to happen. Tell your teammates you love them.”
As for the shooter, Jamari Douglas, he is currently behind bars, facing a manslaughter charge. He has a $5,000 bond.