‘He had so much life ahead of him’: 12-year-old student killed hours after 6th grade commencement

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 1:32 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT/Gray News) - A Mississippi community is mourning the loss of a 12-year-old after he was killed in a drive-by shooting after his 6th grade graduation.

Adrian McDougles’ mother had already begun the process of moving her kids from Jackson to Hattiesburg, one of his teachers said, but brought him back to Midtown Public Charter School’s campus on Thursday so he could participate in the graduation ceremonies.

Hours later, a drive-by shooting left Adrian dead and his older brother injured.

“Adrian was good and bright and smart and funny, and he had so much life ahead of him,” Luciana Taylor, one of his teachers, said. “There’s no telling what he could have become. And just to know that he wouldn’t ever be able to do that is heart-wrenching. It’s devastating. And it’s the part that really hurts the most.”

Taylor learned a lot about 12-year-old Adrian over the course of that year.

What stood out most to her was his personality.

“Every time the tears tried to fall, I would burst out laughing because I like to think every memory was hilarious,” Taylor said.

That includes the last memory she had with him on Thursday.

Taylor said she was in her classroom when Adrian burst inside and told her he had come all the way from out of town to get his certificate.

Taylor told him she didn’t have one for him.

“He grabs a sheet of paper from my front desk. And he writes on there, writes his name,” Taylor said. “He said, ‘Here.’ I said, ‘What am I going to do with it?’ He said, ‘Write my award on there.’ And I said, ‘What award?’ ‘What are you going to say?’ ‘I don’t know. Make up something.’ And I said, ‘Fine.’ So, I took the pen, and I wrote ‘Most Likely to Get on My Nerves.”

On Thursday alone, four children from age 6 to 16 were shot in Jackson, including the shooting that killed Adrian and injured his older brother Onterrio.

Those shootings became a galvanizing force for Jackson city council members to discuss new crime initiatives this week, including an ordinance that would hold parents accountable when their kids commit crimes with guns.

Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes said he plans to vote in favor of that ordinance once it’s put before the entire council.

“Whatever it’s gonna take to stop these killings, we need to do,” Stokes said. “School is out. We want to make sure when school starts back in August that not one child will miss school because that child is dead, killed by a bullet.”

Ward 2 Councilwoman Angelique Lee plans to support the ordinance as well, saying it’s their job to put forth legislation that makes people feel safe and in turn, makes the city safe as well.

“We need to do everything we can to curb crime. Right now, we’re in a war zone, you know,” Lee said. “People are feeling unsafe in this city. If we need to do something that would hold parents accountable, then we need to do that.”

Taylor said she thinks that’s a step in the right direction, but she also sees how many mothers and fathers simply check out of their kids’ lives.

“The more I teach kids as years go by, I just, sometimes I feel like, we get less and less involvement from parents, and so many excuses,” Taylor said. “I’m a parent, and ultimately, my kids and how they behave and how they carry themselves. It’s all things that I have instilled in them. Your children are a direct reflection of you.”

Other initiatives planned for Tuesday evening’s meeting of the council’s public safety committee include a discussion on expanding the city’s real-time camera footprint, more violence interruption efforts, and the creation of a crime prevention task force.

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