VALRICO, Florida - Four days after he was killed in a scuffle over skateboarders, Air Force veteran David James was remembered at a candlelight vigil by more acquaintances than anyone was expecting.
Well over 100 friends, family members, and neighbors came to the spot James was gunned down Sunday to share their memories of the 41-year-old. Some knew him as "DJ," others simply as the guy who would help kids around the neighborhood.
But Sunday, while at the community basketball court with his 8-year-old stepdaughter Danielle, he was shot dead after an argument with an armed neighbor about kids skateboarding. According to police, Trevor Dooley, 69, was upset with neighborhood kids and showed a weapon as a threat. The two men scuffled for the gun and James wound up dead with Danielle calling for help on his cell phone.
Dooley was arrested Tuesday and charged with manslaughter, although he bonded out Wednesday night.
On Thursday, James' loved ones chose not to dwell on the injustice, but to celebrate what they described as an amazing life.
"DJ was a very large, strong man," said Jay Loveless, James' commander in Iraq. "People would (call him) a 'tough guy,' but he would just snicker. He knew being tough is walking away."
"What he did with his own life is amazing," said Toni James, who came down from Minnesota after hearing of her son's death.
"He is going to be missed by a lot of people," Toni continued, expressing her surprise over how many people he had touched in his Valrico community.