12-year-old boy killed shortly after graduation, MS cops say

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Adrian Hawkins-McDougles, 12, was killed in a drive-by shooting shortly after graduating from sixth grade in Jackson, Mississippi, police say.

Luciana Taylor

A 12-year-old boy described as an “incredibly bright star” was killed in a drive-by shooting shortly after his sixth-grade graduation ceremony, Mississippi authorities say.

Adrian Hawkins-McDougles was fatally shot May 26 while outside with his 16-year-old brother in Jackson, Mississippi, Jackson Police Officer Sam Brown told McClatchy News. His brother was also shot, but he is recovering.

Hawkins-McDougles’ school, Midtown Public Charter School, wrote on Facebook that the student had completed sixth grade on the day of the fatal shooting.

“Our school community is devastated to learn of the passing of Adrian Hawkins-McDougles, an incredibly shining star and a student who just completed sixth grade today,” the message read. “Every student and staff member on campus has at least one positive memory or funny story about Adrian.”

Two 18-year-old men were arrested May 27 and have been charged with the Hawkins-McDougles murder, police said.

Otha Brown is charged with murder, aggravated assault, possession of a stolen vehicle and shooting while driving, police said, and Tarkuan Cohen is charged with murder, aggravated assault and shooting while driving.

On the day of the shooting, the men were riding in a car that had been stolen about two weeks prior, Brown said.

Hawkins-McDougles teacher Luciana Taylor wrote on Facebook that she was grateful to have been able to hug her student and tell him how proud she was of him before his death.

“You were a bright, shining light in 6th grade this year,” she wrote on May 26. Taylor? So every day when you walked in without your smile, I would ask, “Are you straight Adrian?”

In another post, Taylor wrote that on the morning of May 26, Hawkins-McDougles laughed and joked with her in class.

“He loved Rod Wave and NBA YoungBoy. (Although he said the new stuff wasn’t as good as the old),” she wrote. “He loved sucking ketchup from the packet, popping and singing a gospel song, and he loved playing basketball!!!!”

Another teacher, Niqua Rodgers, posted a video of McDougles dancing at her desk to the Disney movie, Encanto. She wrote that she would not normalize the killing of black children.

“It’s not right that I spent the whole year getting him excited about life and his future and someone took it away from him,” she wrote. “No justification for that. My baby was playing basketball and now he’s gone.

Madeleine List is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter. She has reported for the Cape Cod Times and the Providence Journal.

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