Hylton football star killed

James Lewis Parker’s mother sagged against a dark truck parked at the Hillendale Fire Station Friday night and sobbed for her son who had just died of a gunshot wound.

A crowd of about 200 teenagers with a smattering of adults stood quietly in a semicircle near her in support.

Cell phones chirped occasionally from the crowd. A few hugged and wept.

James Parker, 17, was shot Friday at about 8:30 p.m. near the intersection of Macwood and Mahoney drives in the Mapledale area of Dale City, said Detective Dennis Mangan, Prince William police spokesman. He said:

Parker, a Hylton High School football star, was sitting in a the passenger seat of parked car with a 16-year-old friend who was in the driver’s seat. Another 16-year-old, who had a handgun, came up to the boys in the car to show them the weapon.

The gun went off while the boys were looking at it and Parker was shot. The 16-year-old, who was in the driver’s seat, got out of the car and ran.

The boy who originally had the gun jumped in the car and raced to the Hillendale Fire Station where he tried to get help for his wounded friend, but Parker died at the station from gunshot wounds to his upper body.

The boy who originally had the handgun was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless handling of a handgun and possession of a handgun by a person under 18.

His court date and bond information were unknown, Mangan said.

Amber Kochel was among the teens who gathered at the fire station after the rumor of the shooting spread around Dale City.

“He was popular with everybody,” Amber, 14, said.

“There were phone calls going out all over the place,” said Laura Kochel, Amber’s mother.

A man who did not wish to be identified also brought his daughter to the fire station and stayed around.

He said the teenagers, who ranged in age from about 14 to 18 years old, were stunned at the death of their friend.

“I’ve just been surprised at how well behaved the crowd is,” the man said.

Jackie Watkins, a minister of Mount Olive Baptist Church in Centreville, seemed to recognize a need in the crowd and called the teens together after officials led Parker’s mother past the yellow blockade of police tape and to her son, inside the fire station.

The teenagers formed circles around Watkins and held hands.

“You can’t keep the grief inside. You’ve got to let it out. You’ve got to talk about it,” Watkins told the crowd.

“Express your feelings. Hug one another,” he said.

Many in the impromptu congregation took his permission and let their grief out in audible sobs.

Others simply said “amen” or “yes Lord.”

“Be thankful that you are still here, that it wasn’t your time,” Watkins said.

“We come to you right now Lord Jesus. Oh our hearts are heavy. One of our loved ones has been called home. But Father we’re counting on you for strength tonight,” Watkins prayed.

“Lift his spirit Father that he may be at the throne of God tonight. Give us the comfort, Lord, that we need right now. We ask that you receive James. We ask that you keep him Lord,” Watkins prayed.

“In the name of the precious blood of the lamb … and all the people said,” Watkins concluded, “Amen.”

“Amen,” the teenagers said in unison.

It was nearly midnight when Watkins finished. He told the teenagers there was nothing they could do at the fire station, asked them to go home and they left.

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