JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 16-year-old boy who was killed in a double shooting at the Jacksonville Landing has been falsely portrayed as a gang member, his mother said at a candlelight vigil Tuesday night.
Khamoi Petersen, who was one of two teenage boys shot Monday, later died from his injuries. A 13-year-old boy who suffered non-life-threatening injuries has not been named.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, Sheriff Mike Williams said the Landing shooting was likely gang-related and was also connected to a double shooting of two teenagers of the downtown Art Walk 12 days earlier.
Hours later, as a vigil to remember Petersen was about the begin, his mother, Monifa Petersen, put media outlets on blast for reports saying her son was involved in gang activity.
"He’s never been in a gang. He’s not affiliated with a gang," she said. "He was going to graduate this year. He’s got a birthday in 9 days. (He) was about to turn 17. Don’t scandalize my son’s name.”
News4Jax never identified Petersen as a gang member.
Both family members and witnesses said Petersen and the 13-year-old had asked police for help right before the shooting because they feared for their lives.
"Why was he in fear of his life? Evidentially something transpired that he had to go to the officer. I can't tell you why he went. If he was here, he could tell you that. But I can't tell you that," Monifa Petersen said.
Petersen's aunt, Jacklyn Wynn, said the teen had always brought joy to his family.
"Khamoi is a person who always had that smile. You look at Khamoi, and you’re going to smile automatically," Wynn said.
As Wynn reflected on her late nephew's life, she also reflected on how his death on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is yet another example of black on black crime that needs to stop.
“Stop for a moment and think about other’s lives. This black on black crimes has been happening. It’s gotten worst, but for it to happen at this time, during this holiday, it’s crazy," she said.
Also in attendance was Ryan Sarver, a friend of the Petersen family. He said he takes pride in mentoring young black children about doing the right thing, but added that it’s becoming increasingly hard to prevent young black kids from killing each other.
“Here we go again: Another shooting. Another young person. Another young black kid. Another situation that mothers, grandmothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, cousins and mentors just have to deal with all the time in this city," Sarver said.
Family and friends released balloons in the air to honor Petersen during the vigil. Moments later, police officers took one of Petersen's friends, who has not yet been identified, was taken into custody for questioning.
The incident upset Petersen's family. His aunt said it was disrespectful to the family for officers to put the friend into a patrol car during a sensitive moment such as a candlelight vigil.