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Mother doesn't 'feel comfortable' after son shot while walking to bus stop

Fearful of retaliation, family to move from neighborhood where shooting happened

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two months after a Westside High School student was shot while walking to his bus stop, his mother believes it's time to move away from the neighborhood where it happened. 

Cheryl Smith told News4Jax on Wednesday that she thinks her son, Jovan Mills, was targeted and she needs help moving. 

"Since the shooting, I don't feel comfortable," Smith said. "I don’t want to leave my child in the predicament where someone takes his life and then that would weigh on my conscious on what I could’ve done differently."

According to police, Mills, 17, was walking to his bus stop the morning of Sept. 19 when he was shot once in the chest by someone in a passing car. He managed to make it to the bus stop at the corner of Lane Avenue and Miss Muffet Lane, and police said the bus driver made the split-second decision to drive Mills and the other students on the bus to a fire station about a mile away on Jammes Road at Tiny Tim Lane.

Since the shooting, Mills hasn't been to class at Westside High, Smith said. His teachers have sent his schoolwork home. 

"I just started child guidance for him," Smith said Friday. "He won’t walk down the street to go to school."

She said they will be moving out of the Westside neighborhood next month because they fear retaliation. 

Cheryl Smith
Cheryl Smith

In addition to moving to a home where safety isn't a concern, Smith said she's working to take care of Mills' medical expenses alone and she can't work full-time because of a disability. 

"Right now, by me trying to move and get things done for him and myself, it’s a strain on me being a single parent," Smith said.

Though Mills is doing better physically, Smith said her son has thousands of dollars in medical bills, so she's asking for help. She started a GoFundMe account in hopes that people would support their move and help with medical expenses. 

Police have not made any arrests in connection with the shooting. 

Smith's message to other parents was, "Pray and talk to your kids and know what they’re doing at all times."