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Vigil held for man killed in shooting at N. Charleston Piggly Wiggly

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 10:07 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2021 at 11:57 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - North Charleston community members gathered in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly on Rivers Road to light a candle for CJ Brown Junior. The 19-year-old was shot and killed just inside the store on the night of Oct. 29 when North Charleston police say Jerrold Cooper Junior, 34, entered the store looking for his girlfriend and began shooting.

Donnimechia Singleton knew Brown. He says the man was known to be a hard worker and a genuine person.

“This is someone who was a law-abiding citizen, just going to work. He just graduated from high school,” Singleton said. “The family and the community are taking this one really hard.”

Family and friends gathered for the Friday night vigil decked out in black and yellow in honor of Brown who was a serious Pittsburg Steelers Football fan. Beyond his love for sports, Brown was known to be a friendly face in the community. Singleton lives in the same neighborhood as Brown did and says he would see Brown regularly interacting with the community.

“CJ would come out because he had multiple family members that lived in the community and he would walk from one family member to the next saying, ‘Hey how are you doing, good evening.’ He was a humble, respectable young man,” Singleton said. “He was a real example, a good example in the community.”

Throughout the vigil, speakers shared personal experiences of homicides in their own families and renewed calls for change. Ronald Smith was one of those speakers. His 14-year-old daughter, Ronjanae, was killed earlier this year in a mass shooting in North Charleston.

“We have to continue to come together and try to figure out something that we can do to stop the gun violence,” Smith said. “I haven’t grieved yet. I have my boots on the ground and I have been pushing and I have been trying to figure out a change that we can make for the younger generation, so we can save the youth.”

North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess attended the vigil railing against laws that allow people easy access to guns, but also saying he believes the community is stepping up to get criminals off the streets. He says it’s hard to arrest people and keep them in jail if the community is not willing to work with police. He met with Brown’s family the day after the shooting.

“You know the thing that I really love was they were talking about how we can prepare for the case to go to court and that’s what we love. They were in support of what we were doing,” Burgess said. “They want to make sure that we were going to be focused when we get in that court room so the person who is responsible can be held accountable fully. In the 32 years I have been doing this thing, that’s different. Sometimes the family will talk to you and sometimes they won’t. This family welcomed us.”

Police were able to identify Cooper quickly and make an arrest because of witnesses cooperating with officers. Cooper is charged with murder, attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime and is currently being held in the Al Cannon Detention Center.

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