Slain teen’s family presses DA for answers in suspicious death

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Submitted: Fri, 04/27/2012 - 3:38am
Updated: Sat, 04/28/2012 - 4:45pm

WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — More than a dozen family members of a 16-year old girl killed last year in Chadbourn met with the Columbus County District Attorney today, demanding answers. The FBI’s civil rights unit is working alongside local and state agencies to find out whether Jasmine Thar’s death was an accident or a crime.

“We want to move on it. We want things done,” said Willie Gary, the family’s high profile attorney from Florida. “It was a knock down, drag out meeting, there was no question about that. The family wanted answers.”

Both the DA and Gary came out of the meeting with a common understanding: the process to find answers will take time.

Jasmine was shot and killed in the front yard of a Chadbourn home in December. James Blackwell, who lived across the street, says his Model 700 Remington rifle fired without pulling the trigger, killing Jasmine and striking two others. The shooting was ruled accidental and Blackwell was never charged.

Gary says all parties need to be held accountable

“That’s not to excuse anybody,” he said. “The shooter, the gun maker, or the shooter for being negligent.”

The case has garnered some major attention. Carlletta McNeil, Jasmine’s mother, called upon John Barnette, a civil rights activist in Charlotte to help with exposure. Earlier this month, the family organized an online petition to demand justice for Jasmine. They say it already has about 75,000 signatures from supporters all over the world. Some are even drawing parallels to the high profile case in Florida involving Trayvon Martin.

“I would say that some of the people that signed the petition for Jasmine, if you would study and look deep enough a large percentage of those may be the same ones that supported Trayvon Martin and I think because Trayvon Martin sparked an awareness,” said Barnette.

Supporters plan to continue to fight for answers and demanding justice for Jasmine.

“I’m confident that we’re going to get a resolution,” Gary said. “I think it’s too early to start guessing what’s going to happen because I think the evidence is going to have to support that one way or the other. We want justice.”

District attorney Jon David says there is no timetable for the investigation. He says there are ballistic and forensic tests being done. He wanted to reiterate that the investigation will be very thorough.


  • taxpayer says:

    “The question is what is BLACKWELL doing with a loaded gun in the house let alone a gun that can shoot 3 people at the same time and KILL one.”

    >The 2nd Amendment affords him the absolute right to have a firearm in his home…unless he was a convicted felon.

  • simone says:


  • clarity says:

    FIRST OF ALL GET YOUR FACTS STRAIT, this family has been trying to seek justice for their daughters murder sense the day it happened, the media is just now making it a public matter now the Trayvon Martin case has arisen. so being even more disturbing fact is that it took one racially motivated murder to bring to light another racially motivated murder. Second of all you claim that Blackwell didn’t pull the trigger, as if that’s a fact that has been proven in this case, and it hasn’t. What has happened is once again police officers decided that they were going to play judge, jury and executioner, instead of arresting this man and allowing a trial to determine weather or not this was an accident or foul play. Furthermore the evidence that has was found in his home is supporting the exact opposite of what Mr black wall and yourself claim. don’t you find it at least questionable that there was a considerable amount of Nazi paraphernalia, and a confederate flag found in Mr Blackwells home? This alone without being charged with murder, would cause people to believe he was racist.
    But when you combined that with him so called cleaning a weapon with the barrel pointed out the window, and might I add a weapon that is very widely known to have a defect that causes the weapon to discharge with out the trigger being pulled, would definitely cause people to speculate if he pulled the trigger himself and used the defect as an excuse. either way, this was in no way shape or form a shut and closed case. it needs to be investigated and taken to trial, and it’s sad that it took the death of Trayvon Martin to bring light to this case. it seems to me that you want to convict the victim’s family of falsely accusing someone of purposely killing their child. when in actuality that is a normal reaction when someone shoots and kills another person. what isn’t normal is when someone goes to bat for the shooter without knowing the facts. it causes me to wonder if this were a black man that killed someone would you just is easily defend his excuse that it was an accident? I highly doubt it.

  • WG says:

    He did take it pro bono, I know personally.

  • Bella says:

    It’s a real shame what happened to this young lady. It’s an absolute atrocity that the man who committed this heinous crime wasn’t arrested. I do not believe this was an accident by the least bit, especially now that you’re mentioning the confederate flag he had in his house.

    Even if he’s “claiming” this was an accident, he should have still been arrested!!! If people want to own guns so much – then they need to be responsible for any and every action that occurs as a result of their gun. Accident or not – if your gun kills someone – you need to go to jail for life! If our government doesn’t make people responsible for their actions with a gun, we are all at risk.

    I do not think this was an accident, and this racist idiot should get the death penalty, if the state has one.

  • jennifer says:

    First of all, you weren’t there when this happened– so you don’t know for sure that it “was” an accident. So please do not sit here preaching that “it was an accident”, when you don’t know that for sure. What makes me believe it wasn’t an accident is the fact that he had confederate flags and other racist paraphernalia in his home. Makes me think — perhaps he did shoot the black girl and passed it off as an accident to avoid jail time. People that belong to hate groups are sick in the head – and there’s no telling what they will do.

    SECOND of all, even if this was a ‘so called’ accident – he should’ve still been arrested!!! Gun owners need to be made responsible for any and all actions that occur as a result of their gun. If the government allows gun owners to go around accidentally shooting people without consequence, we are ALL at risk.

    THIRD of all, you sit here and make it seem like this murderer will spend the rest of his life regretting what he did. Honey, you don’t know that for sure!! He could be feeling good about what he did because he hates black people – evidenced by the racist paraphernalia police found in his home.

    FOURTH of all, when was the last you heard on the news of a black person “accidentally” killing a white kid and that black person didn’t go to jail? It’s never happened!! So please stop with your statements that this police investigation was not performed along racial lines.

    FIFTH of all, this 16 year old was somebody’s child, and somebody’s brother or sister. Picture how you would feel –would you still be willing to let this guy off the hook if He had done this to someone you know?? It’s called “Having empathy”.

    The guy needs to rot in prison. My opinion.

  • LKW Girl says:

    Not that my 2 cents matters…but here it is. It’s mighty funny how this tragedy was being called an “accident” UNTIL all the controservy associated with the Travon Martin case came about. Now all of a sudden, it’s a race crime! Whatever! Thanks to our lovely media, this is being turned into a 3 ring circus! The difference between Zimmerman and Blackwell is that Zimmerman actually pulled the trigger with the sole intention of shooting Travon! Blackwell did NOT pull the trigger and definitely had NO INTENTION WHATSOEVER of shooting anyone BLACK,WHITE,HISPANIC,RED, or PURPLE! It was a terrible terrible accident. Accidents happen. Should Blackwell be held responsible for this ACCIDENT? Civally yes…criminally no! My prayers go out to the family of the victim. I pray that God above will give them the peace they need to help them through their time of loss and sorrow. I can not begin to imagine the pain they felt and are still feeling. However, that peace is NOT going to come from having a person wrongly charged for a crime. Mr. Blackwell will have to live with concequences of this accident for the rest of his life. I’m almost sure he goes to sleep with the imagine of the victim lying their bleeding taking her last breath and wakes with it every morning. My prayers are with him and his family as well.

  • taxpayer says:

    is looking for a fat payday. It’s unfortunate the young girl was killed…but the outrage appears to be misplaced.

    Who’s paying the legal fees to “Willie Gary, the family’s high profile attorney from Florida.” I’m betting he didn’t take the case pro bono.

  • Guest Whiteville says:

    unfortunate prior Race cases, nepotism issues with Jon David –and his twin brother Ben David –originally hired as Assistant DA’s through some type of arrangement supported by a Superior Court Judge. Both rumored to be far higher pay range than local
    assistant DA’s earned or approved under the state budget at the time. That Judge is the son of the former DA that put african-american civil rights media activist Ben Chavis in prison for 10 years. Which became a National Civil Rights issue, overturning Chavis’ conviction in 1980 by the 4th Circuit U S Court of Appeals

  • Gerry Sirtigo Whited says:

    I would simply ask how thorough was this investigation,a mere study trajectory would help determine if there was a point & shoot involved. And if there was a point & shoot then that would open up many more questions that James Blackwell would have to answer!!??

  • Guest II says:

    The question that runs through my mind is why was he cleaning a loaded rifle out of a window ? Racism does exist now-a-days why is people so blind to that FACT ! Prayers go out to the families of both.

  • Just me says:

    I Don’t know what planet you on, But this case was always and only about race. The question is what is BLACKWELL doing with a loaded gun in the house let alone a gun that can shoot 3 people at the same time and KILL one.Well where you think he got that gun from or you don’t care about that as long as you think it is not RACIST..By the way, the Media only made us aware of the RACIST people that are still around. Everybody in that State need to standup and tell BLACKWELL what he did.SAY BLACKWELL YOU COMMITTED A HATE CRIME… PS….. YOU ARE RIGHT YOUR 2 CENTS DON’T COUNT AND MINE DON’T EITHER.

  • Brian says:

    Accident or not, gun owners have a responsibility to handle their firearms safely and competently. There is zero tolerance for mistakes, as is evident with this incident. Any and all errors made by an owner of a firearm should be met with criminal charges and stiff civil liability in order to emphasize to those that own firearms that safety is paramount.

  • TRUTHIS says:


  • tweety says:

    its called justice…..

  • Nobody but you. says:

    First of all I want to start by stating that I am not prejudice against anyone. If this is due to racism, then you have to ask yourself would Obama be president if he were white? See it is thinking like this, that would help some from always coming to the conclusion that a matter is due to the race of a person. I am no way saying that he is innocent. I mean they are still investigating this case? I mean if you believe there is foul play here, then write your congressmen. IF that doesn’t help write the president. These people get paid to resolve issues such as this. That is all I have for you. Good day and God Bless!

  • AR says:

    You don’t understand because it wasn’t your child, your sister, your loved one. But when it is you would want justice. She was the only one killed but two or three others were hit, do you really thing 3-4 fired shots were accidental? You question it’s not justice because she is black? Or do you feel it is justice because she isn’t white? For one minute imagine your child lying dead because of something another person was handling. Why would it be “accidentally” pointed out of his window across the street at a home? Why would he be accidentally handling and pointing a gun from his home in the first place. Stop being blind and biased and be real about the wrong you defend. Lest a black man “accidently” shot your child, your mother, your sister, your brother and then not get charged. But of course we all know he would, but if he didn’t because it was an accident, would you then say, justice has been served? Think before you speak.

  • anne says:

    I don’t understand this story. I know the young girl was killed, the man across the street accidently fired his gun but was not charged. Why is this being pressed? Because she was black and he was white? Why does everything that happen like this become a race crime? It is so ridiculous.

    It sounds like it was an accident, but if they think he should be charged with negligence or something like that, I can see it, but why bring in a civil rights leader. I think it is more of a money issue.

  • stm says:

    How long did it take Chadbourn Police to determine that this was an
    “accident”? I think the quick rush to “non-judgement” is what actually makes this a pressing matter. Not knocking their police department, but really, for such an unusual thing to happen as a misfiring, don’t you think they should have called in more experienced forensics people to make that determination.

  • tweety says:

    let me get this straight he said it was an accident the family don’t thing so.they want answer on why there daughter was shot Ok got that she is a young lady of color he is white were is race apart of the equation? now this is were i am lost a family doesn’t feel they are getting the answer to why there daughter was shot and its a problem that they do.what money are we talking about is it possible that all the money in the world would not bring there daughter back.Seems like they love there daughter.Hard to believe.

  • Disappointed with society says:

    If you would have read the whole story race is involved because when they went to his house it said and I quote “Police found a Confederate flag and Nazi memorabilia and books in the shooter’s bedroom.” That is why it should a race crime, and he should be held accountable even if it was an honest mistake. He should have been more responsible with his weapon,I mean who cleans a loaded gun? I don’t own a gun and I would have know better than that and if he was a registered owner then he should have definitely known that.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    the high profile attorney from out of state wants to hold the gun maker accountable?

    By all means the deceased’s survivors should have closure on this; and if the shooter was in fact responsible, he should be held accountable.

    But rather than appearing to be an attempt to secure justice for the deceased, the attorney’s comments lead one to think this is all about money.

    Sorry to say it; but that’s the appearance.

  • Guest Apu says:

    There are approximately 75 separate lawsuits pending against Remington alleging that this model rifle misfired without the shooter pulling the trigger. So, Remington certainly knows that there might be problem with this particular rifle.

    If there is in fact a flaw in this gun’s design that the manufacturer is aware of, I think it’s appropriate to hold them responsible monetarily. They haven’t issued a recall, much less a warning about the possibility that there could be an issue with this rifle. If a company sells a flawed product that causes the death of someone, they absolutely should be made to pay. This was an innocent girl minding her own business when she was killed.

    What would you do if loved one of yours was killed because a company manufactured a product that they knew was flawed, and decided not to act on that knowledge? Would you just say “oh, well” and let it go? I doubt it.

    The other option is that the rifle owner in Chadbourn actually meant to shoot, in which case he should be held responsible rather than the Remington.

    Either Remington or the shooter is definitely responsible; the trick is to figure out which one.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    Deep pockets, plain and simple.

  • Guest1946 says:

    Remington rifles have a flawed trigger mechanism which sometimes causes them to fire even with the safety engaged. They have had many lawsuits brought against them. Unfortunately, there is a good chance that this is the case here.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    …few succeed.

    When properly maintained, assembled and used correctly, the Remington Model 700 is as safe as any rifle made.

    If they were prone to accidental discharge, why would the Army, Marine Corps, and Navy swear by them?

  • Guest2012 says:

    I understand the family being upset, its a tragic loss, but why an the heck does everything have to involve a civil rights lawyer? I’am tired of seeing the race card pulled for eveything, it gets old! Just like in the Trayvon case its all about race, not everyone knows the whole side to either story, so before race cards get pulled why dont yall let all the evidence be shown.

  • tweety says:

    guest i have ask this question before and since you used it what is a race card.We want to believe that both cases are about race and you will not admit to see but the martin case was purely racist and for no other reason but we will not get into it well let me say one more thing first look into your own past and present and what do you say when you see a young black man in a hooded or baggey pants what do you say don’t have to answer that just something to thing about.Now back to my question what is a race card?

  • Guest122112 says:

    There are people signing this petition and drawing parallels to the Trayvon Martin case?!? That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard lately, talk about stretching for any “advantage” you think you can get for media exposure. Links to the Trayvon Martin case stop at an African-American minor being shot and killed. Now if you want to open up a Civil Rights investigation into every incident that matches that description, good luck!

  • Guestop says:

    Was their any enmity between Blackwell and his neighbors?

    When this shooting occurred, I recall reading an account that described Blackwell as extremely distraught after seeing what had happened. I also read that there are several documentations of Remington 700 rifles firing with no one pulling a trigger.

    I believe this was a tragic accident.

  • Guest for the day says:

    It appears that if you don’t like the outcome of an investigation, that means you didn’t get justice.

    Answers? The original investigation gave answers. It’s just not the answers the family wanted.

    I sympathize with their loss. But sometimes accidents are just accidents.

    Threatening boycotts, protest marches, and the rest is not an attempt to find answers or justice. It’s blackmail and intimidation.

    And to the civil rights activist likening this to the Trayvon Martin case, I would think that would be the worst possible comparison. Except for the intimidation of the justice system in order to get someone charged, the final outcome will be Martin was shot in self defense.

    It will be interesting to see if District Attorney David will be intimidated into filing charges. If he does, does that mean he was negligent for not filing before these “demands” were made?

    If that is the case, he should resign immediately. If he failed to charge and neglected this case, he is incompetent to hold the position.

    The public (voters) will be watching this very closely Mr. David.

  • Guest1946 says:

    Politics and monetary kickbacks……….like everything else in government of all levels.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    …they were fixed fairly quickly because they were so bad. Plus, keep in mind that M-14 production had been ordered stopped by McNamara. They had to hurry because there wasn’t any good fall-back plan available.

    In addition to the forward assist mechanism they plated the chamber with chrome and added a stiffer buffer assembly to slow the cyclic rate of fire. Remember, too, that half the problems were caused by the ammo leaving such a horrendous amount of residue and absolutely no adequate training on first echelon maintenance for an entirely new rifle. (I still think the M16A1 and 5.56mm were useless until the A2 conversion, which actually turned the M16 into an exceptional infantryman’s rifle.)

    The military doesn’t screw around with crappy firearms…and you KNOW how they feel about accidental discharges. How many young lieutenants’ careers are ended because of failing to clear a pistol correctly while changing over the OD?

    If the 700 had problems, they’d be long gone out of the inventory. Instead, they’ve been here for over forty years. Yes, many have aftermarket triggers, but many more have factory Walkers that are simply tuned by the armorers. Plus, they are kept clean.

    The most telling issue (to me) is that no one can duplicate these alleged accidental discharges. Why? I think it’s an easy “out” for people who screw up and launch one….like this guy. Why would he have a loaded rifle in his house and why would he be screwing around with it while it was loaded?

  • SurfCityTom says:

    you know what really stinks in liability damage lawsuits? The blood sucking attorney gets more of the award than the injured parties.

    Case in point — the former Senator who is currently on trial in Greensboro.

  • GuestMan says:

    They would use them for the same reason they used an M-16 that was prone to jamming until they added a forward assist. It’s money and politics, Common, you KNOW that.

  • Guest2012 says:

    Well tweety, Playing the race card is an idiomatic phrase that refers to exploitation of either racist or anti-racist attitudes by accusing others of racism. Maybe that will help you so you dont have to keep asking what it is, and how do you know that the Martin case was pure racism? were you there? No didnt think so. When I see a young black man in a sweatshirt and baggy pants I think the same thing as if I seen a young white or hispanic man in baggy pants “Pull up your pants no one wants to see your underwear” Simple as that. and its not always whites being racist against blacks, I went into a black neighborhood and was told to leave that I didnt belong there, Kinda sad dont ya think, because iam white I wasnt allowed in psssh, this racism crap gets old, iam not trying to say they shouldnt take legal actions but why must it always be made up to be a race issue when its not all iam saying just tired of it.

    heres some links maybe you should also look at

  • tweety says:

    Sorry mr quest you didn’t anwser my question good attempt are right no one wants to see there underwear let me put it this why ask your friends what they think and if you see a white kid dress like that you or your friends might say he is trying to act black (whatever that means)You were told to leave you don’t belong sounds like i’v heard that before .Was i there physically no do i know of course was born and raised right here in wilmington and i know you want to believe that we never had racism or racist people here but when did an we do agree racism and racist is old when will you let it go.and there is a difference in racist and being prejudice(i don’t like people who own cats) LOOK IT UP.Next time you pass me stop town or in ruby tuesday remember we are the same and i should have the same rights as an american as you.

  • Nancy Rayne says:

    Tragic and sad.
    Some Remington rifles have been notorious for this. There have been deaths attributed to this. There was a PBS story about the trigger mechanism of certain Remington rifles being unreliable and firing when you try to put the safety on. The maker of the trigger mechanism established a fix for it but the Remington manufacturer did not care to incorporate it due to overall cost, as I understand it. Most Remington rifle owners have taken it upon themselves to fix the mechanism and have made the weapon as safe as any. The cost is to fix it is very small. Most who are aware of it fix it. Some ignore it. Not sure about why this isnt more of an outrage. I think it negligent on the owner as well as the manufacturer. Any gun owner should know to handle all weapons as if loaded and NEVER EVER point it in the direction of any person or dwelling. Remington rifle or not, treat all firearms as though they will fire with deadly force.

  • Gab real says:

    A gun can’t misfire if the owner checked the rifle, or never had it loaded in the first place! Didn’t Evans the neighbor say it was a quiet peaceful neighborhood? Who needs a gun much less a loaded one?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    For all these wild claims of accidental discharges, why has no one been able to duplicate it without first monkeying with the rifle?

    As I have asked previously, who loads a high-powered rifle IN their house and then lets the muzzle cross a line where it endangers people. If you’re working on a rifle, you use dummy cratridges.

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