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Teenager gunned down

SELMA — Police here are still trying to figure out what happened to leave a 16-year-old Selma High School sophomore dead of a gunshot wound on Marie Foster Street and St. John’s Avenue.

Joshua Jackson was gunned down Sunday night by what one witness said were four males, one with a handgun.

Authorities said Jackson and friend were approached by the four males as they walked down the street. The friend, who police would not identify, said one of the males drew a handgun and said, “Give it up.”

“The friend stated he and the 16-year-old ran in different directions when (the friend) heard what appeared to be gunshots,” said Sgt. Doug Stewart, administrative division commander at the Selma Police Department.

Police arrived shortly after the shooting and found Jackson in the street, who was pronounced dead at the scene by the coroner.

Police Chief William T. Riley III said detectives still have not worked through the entire story of what might had led to Jackson’s death.

“We don’t know what happened,” he said. “We’ve been interviewing people all day.”

Riley said the police have no suspects yet.

Jackson’s body was sent to forensics in Montgomery for an autopsy, Stewart said.

All Selma School System counselors were on hand Monday at Selma High School to talk with or listen to students affected by the death of a classmate.

Today was supposed to be the first day of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam, but Dr. Austin Obasohan and Principal Wanda McCall received permission from the state Department of Education to postpone the tests until later because of the students’ reaction to Jackson’ killing.

“We just mourning with their family at this time,” Obasohan said. “This is a grieving period for us as well as the family. We know the students will need us during this time. The counselors have a plan in place which involves one-on-one counseling or group counseling as needed.”

Kendrick Crum, a junior at Selma High and Jackson’s friend, said they last saw each other Sunday afternoon.

“I was shocked when I got the call (Sunday) night,” Crum said. “You know, we grew up together and he’s just an all-around cool guy to be with.”

Demarcus Howard, another student, hasn’t lived a lifetime in Selma. Jackson made the transition to Selma easier for him, Howard said.

“Josh was just all-around good people. He could make everybody smile,” said Howard. “He was the first person I met when we first moved to this neighborhood.”

Ward 8 Council member Corey Bowie saw the teenager laying in the street Sunday night after the incident. Ward 8 covers the area where the high school sophomore was shot. On Monday Bowie visited the youth’s mother at the family home on Alabama Avenue.

“I don’t know what happened,” said Bowie. “This has got to stop. When a life is lost like this, we lose both ways — the individual and the one who perpetrates the crime.”

Bowie said he wants more police officers and mini police precincts across the area to give law enforcement higher visibility.

“I’m not saying it will prevent anything, but it will slow it down some, I’m convinced of that,” the council member said.

Council member Angela Benjamin of Ward 4 chairs the council committee on children and families. She wants to hold a meeting for all families at city hall soon to talk about the issues that cause violence, such as the Jackson killing.

“This has an adverse affect on the whole community,” Benjamin said.

The shooting comes on the heels of a seminar held Friday and coordinated by Benjamin on the issues African-American males face in today’s society. Called, “Healing the Black Man,” various experts on the physical, spiritual and psychological discussed today’s African-American males and the need for a holistic approach to helping many with self-esteem and recognizing their status in society.

Reporter Laura Fenton contributed to this report.