PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The Pine Bluff community is coming together after a 16-year-old was shot and killed early Sunday morning.
According to Pine Bluff Police Department officials, the shooting occurred at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Pine Bluff. A group of people were gathered at the park when an altercation started, and someone started shooting.
The PBPD said a shooting victim was taken to the Jefferson Regional Medical Center around 1:45 a.m.
The victim who died was a 16-year-old. While another victim involved in the incident arrived at JRMC and is stable, officers also said other people were treated for non-gun related injuries.
Although police have not named the teen, family and friends confirm his name is Tyler Lamar Thornton.
Tonya Spicer says her son was very close with Thornton and her family is deeply hurt by Thornton’s death.
“If he wasn’t home, he was at my house like he was with my son all the time,” Spicer said. “We are just praying for his family.”
Spicer’s daughter, Da’Naijah Turner says it doesn’t feel real that Thornton is gone.
“It feels more like a nightmare. Honestly because it was so unexpected and it was like the wrong place at the wrong time,” Turner said.
Turner along with his other friends say he will be dearly missed.
“We are basically a second family when he calls us, we are on the way and when he needs something we’re there,” Aamouri Urquhart said.
Turner says a lot of the friends Thornton and her shared they met at Watson Chapel High School where they and his family says he attended.
On Monday, Pastor Jesse Turner says he along with a group of pastors in the area who are with their organization “Pastor on Patrol” came to the high school to help students through their grief.
“We were there counseling and praying for the students,” Pastor Turner said.
Pastor Turner says their group also provides hope in a time of sadness and spiritual guidance to prevent violence among youth.
“We realize this is a spiritual war where we have to change the minds of our children,” Pastor Turner said.
He goes on to say they also promoted non-violence to students and gave them other options to handle anger.
“We use Martin Luther King Jr’s six principles of non-violence, and we also use the 1776 unites curriculum,” Pastor Turner said.
Pastor Turner goes on to say while King’s lesson provides non-violence alternatives the curriculum helps students get inspirations from American history of people who overcame hardships.
The pastors were also seen at the balloon release held at the school for students to gather in memory of Thornton.
“I’m glad everyone came out and showed that everyone really cared for him,” Tyler Verser said.
Braylon Scarver was also at the balloon release; he says Thornton was his best friend.
“He always knew when something was wrong, he understood me,” Scarver said.
The group of friends say Thornton’s light will never be dimmed and they will forever remember his bright shining personality.
As for the investigation into the shooting, police say one other person was treated for a gunshot wound but its non-life-threatening and multiple other people were treated for injuries from the incident but are expected to be okay.
Authorities said the motive for the shooting is unknown.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Pine Bluff Police.