KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH)—Students at a Kokomo school returned to class Monday, one day after someone shot and killed their classmate.
Police arrested 21-year-old Kaliel Rucker for the Sunday afternoon shooting of 17-year-old Lemarcus McGraw. Prosecutors charged Rucker with murder, possession of marijuana and dealing marijuana.
McGraw was a student at The Crossing, an alternative school in Kokomo.
His classmates met a special visitor Monday: McGraw’s mother.
With tears running down her face, Kaynia Hendrix stood side-by-side with school leaders and spoke to the students.
“He had a smile that would light up a room,” Hendrix said. “We all grieve in different ways, and we’re all grieving.”
Teachers describe McGraw as a hard worker with a world of potential.
Hendrix asked students to pray—and not just for her family.
“Pray for the boy that shot Lemarcus,” she said. ‘We want him to be lifted up because he’s got a fight on his hands for a momentary decision.”
Police said Rucker admitted to shooting McGraw after officers found Rucker’s handgun. Detectives believe the Sunday afternoon shooting was the result of a pot deal gone wrong.
Officers also arrested a 15-year-old for attempted robbery and possession of marijuana.
“We are all a village and we all need to help each other get through this,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix said her son wasn’t perfect, but he was in the process of turning his life around.
“Don’t let impulsive decisions alter your life,” she said.
“We lost one of our own,” school administrator Alonzo Smith said to the group. “Part of our family.”
Smith was the first person Hendrix saw when she left the hospital.
That’s one reason she decided to show her love for her son’s teachers and classmates.
“You all come in for a big old hug,” Hendrix said to the group.
Hendrix fought tears as she hugged the students and teachers.
School leaders said they’re organizing a vigil near the Village Pantry store where McGraw was shot. They said they plan on inviting McGraw’s family and the suspect’s family so they can move past the tragedy together.