A white man who has admitted killing a black teenager reportedly told police: ‘That’s another piece of trash off the street.’
William Pulliam, 62, has been charged with murdering the teenager, identified by his mother as 15-year-old James Means, in Charleston, West Virginia.
Police say the altercation started when the two walked into each other in the street, before arguing.
Pulliam then pulled out a gun and shot the teenager twice in the abdomen, according to reports.
He later denied making the comment to investigators, telling WCHS-TV that he shot the teenager in self-defence because he felt threatened.
He also denied that race was a motivation in the fatal shooting.
Pulliam could be jailed for life over the incident.
Vigils have taken place as people described James as funny, smart and a good friend, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
Obi Henderson, of the Dreams Community Development Corporation, said that James had attended weekly meetings with a youth group called Dream Chasers to learn about career development.
He said: ‘James’ name is not something that should be forgotten. His life was stolen from him.
‘It’s important that we come together and unify people, and ensure that these young people do not continue to see their friends killed in the streets.
‘Not only by their elders, like this gentleman, but each other.’
Penni Padget, who called Means’ smile ‘infectious’, said: ‘We’ve got to do something different, because it might be James today, but it (could) be somebody else tomorrow.
‘His life mattered to us.’