Botham Shem Jean, 26-Year-Old Black Man Killed Inside His Dallas Apartment by Police Officer, Remembered as a Cheerful Young Man Whose ‘Purpose and Goal Was Just to Serve God’

There was one sure way to know you were near Botham Shem Jean, the man shot and killed by a Dallas police officer Thursday night after she entered his apartment believing it was her own, his friends say.

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Whether he’d spotted someone he knew or taken the stage to lead worship at Harding University, the small Christian college he attended in Arkansas, Jean would take any opportunity to bellow “Yeaaaaaaaaaaah” in his distinctive Caribbean accent.

“Every time you’d see him, across campus or across wherever, if he’d see you, or you could see him, you’d just hear ‘Yeeeaaahh’ really loud and you’d be like, ‘Where is he?,'” Jean’s friend Levi Heasley says. “‘I know it’s Botham, and I know he’s trying to get somebody’s attention. I don’t know if it’s mine.'”

Jean, 26, came to Arkansas from Saint Lucia, an island in the eastern Caribbean. He frequently led Harding’s daily chapel services — he favored traditional hymns, says Kidron Cannon, another friend — and served as resident assistant. It was in that role that he met Heasley. The two, Heasley says, became fast friends thanks to Jean’s generous personality and their shared faith.

“They’d have to come and check whether or not you were in your room every single night. Most RAs were like ‘OK, cool, you’re there,’ but he would come in and say ‘Hey, what’s going on? How was your day?'” Heasley says. “He genuinely cared and would talk to every single person on the hallway to make sure their day was all right and see if they needed anything — just to talk, or just anything. We started to hang out more and just talk and laugh and hang out outside of class because he was just fun to be around.”

Jean graduated from Harding’s College of Business Administration with a degree in finance in 2016, leading him to his job at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas. Getting a good job was just a secondary goal for Jean while he was in school, though, Cannon says.

“I can say for sure that his purpose and his goal was just to serve God and just to use his talents, wherever God led him,” Cannon says.

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SOURCE: Dallas Observer, Stephen Young

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