The Springfield mother of a 15-year-old shot and killed late last year wants to send a message to the community about stopping gun violence in the area.
William Allen “B.J.” Beverly Jr. was shot about 12:45 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, at the Speedway gas station in the 1300 block of East Main Street.
Officers found him inside, near the cashier’s counter according to a Springfield police report. He was laying on his back with a gunshot wound to his upper right shoulder and another on his back right side. Beverly was pronounced dead at the scene.
It has been three months since Beverly’s death and it’s been hard on his mother, Mandy Jackson.
“I feel awful, I feel like a part of me is gone,” she said.
The family has received support but also negative comments.
“I don’t know. I can’t believe it, I can’t believe the hate that we have seen and heard and what they have done,” Jackson said.
His sisters and friends decorated a utility pole in front of the gas station after his death to serve as a memorial but she said it was torn down multiple times.
“I wish people would just quit destroying something that we are trying to have for my son, their brother and their friend,” she said. “So I sarcastically said, ‘I’m going to get a billboard.’”
Family and friends thought that it was a good idea. She then looked into it and found a billboard to honor the memory of her son. It says “#BJ’s World” and “STOP the Violence.”
“I then put, ‘Stop the violence,’ on there because there’s violence everywhere, not just my son’s situation,” Jackson said.
It’s located at South Florence and East Main streets, near where he was killed. She drives by it every day and said every time she sees it, it makes her feel better.
Family and friends contributed to help cover the costs, Jackson said.
At this time, no one has been arrested in connection with Beverly’s death.
“We know who it is. We’ve interviewed him about what happened out there and we are just waiting to present the case to the grand jury,” Springfield Police Division Lt. Jeffrey Meyer said.
The man has claiming self-defense, Meyer said.
A grand jury will review the evidence in the case and decide whether the shooting was justified or not, Meyer said. It will be presented to them in the next few weeks.
The billboard is contracted to stay at its location until Feb. 27. Jackson is talking with the advertising company about extending it.