Webster Thacker spent four years playing football for Glenn Hills High School and graduated while friends dropped out or joined gangs.
“He wanted to graduate and do good to make his mama proud,” friend Victor Moli, 19, said during a Stop the Violence rally held at the school Friday in response to Thacker’s death.
After hanging out with friends in McDuffie Woods on Wednesday, Thacker, 19, was confronted by Ervin Jackson, 24, a convicted felon on probation in South Carolina for a burglary charge, authorities said.
Jackson is in jail charged with the shooting death of Thacker in the 2500 block of Drayton Drive.
Thacker was Augusta’s 25th homicide for 2011.
Thacker’s family said Jackson is the same man who threatened the teen one month earlier after aggressive words during a neighborhood basketball game turned into punches and promises to come back for Thacker with a gun.
“Webster thought the threats were only words,” Thacker’s mother, Willette, said Friday.
When Glenn Hills Principal Wayne Frazier came to the microphone, he asked the students why these killings are happening to the children in the community.
He said Webster was the third Glenn Hills student killed in five months, and one more young black man to add to the statistics. Months before, students Naquan Henderson and Anthony Washington were killed in shootings.
“I need y’all to go back in the streets and talk to each other,” Frazier said. “If y’all don’t get involved in stopping it, it’s not going to stop.”
For some students, sharing memories about the deceased is comforting, but not enough.
Glenn Hills juniors Ricky Bolton and Shamel Powell said Webster’s death caused them to start a movement to ask the community to help with problems that start in the streets and end in gunfire.
“People are trying to put on a happy face to make people feel better, but it feels like someone is always getting killed,” said Diamond Hayes, 17.
Webster had plans to join the Air Force, but decided to attend Augusta Technical College in January instead so he could stay at home to help his mother, who has Lupus.
On his graduation day, despite the pain, Willette slipped into a pair of high heels for the first time in years for the special occasion. When her legs got too sore after the ceremony, Wilbur scooped his mother into his arms and carried her across the Bell Auditorium parking lot.
“That boy could fight, and that made him a protector,” said his aunt, Sandra Redd.
But in looking for answers for its pain, the Thacker family is not sure what it will find.
Family members say they believe Webster made all the right choices but was still swallowed by the streets.
“This is out of the blue,” his aunt Tonya Franklin said. “Could you leave innocent kids alone? He had plans … and you killed him.”