Ja’Donte Thompson, 17, had a “permanent smile,” said his great-aunt, Cotina Hancock.
“You could be in a dark place and he could light up the room,” she told The Nashville Tennessean.
Thompson was shot and killed late Tuesday night after scuffling with two men who had broken into his Nashville, Tenn., home, according to police. Police told WSMV they believe the robbers had targeted the wrong home. They kicked in the back door to the family’s home at 11:50 p.m. Tuesday, holding Thompson, his parents and his grandfather at gunpoint while demanding money, police told the station.
Thompson suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest after trying to fight back, police said, and his stepfather was pistol-whipped.
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“It’s a shame. He was a great kid,” Hancock told The Nashville Tennessean. “To know he was trying to defend his family …”
A Facebook post by Metro Nashville Public Schools identified Thompson as a recent enrollee at Hillsboro High School after previously attending East Nashville Magnet School.
“And though he wasn’t at the school long, he had a positive impact on his classmates, teachers and staff,” the post read, noting Thompson had planned to join the school’s baseball team and a campus leadership training club. “Teachers said he had model behavior and was a good example of an aspiring leader.”
A post by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department on Wednesday described one of the attackers as wearing a red beanie and red jacket. He appeared to be intoxicated, police said. Police have asked anyone with information to call 615-742-7463.