Crime

Gulfport teen was shot in the same neighborhood where his father was killed in 2013

A memorial for 16-year-old Damien Thompson, Jr., who was killed over the weekend, sits near the intersection of Ponderosa and Bonita drives in Gulfport on Monday, February 2, 2017. "It was very hurtful that he was taken the way he was taken," said Catrease Hyde, Thompson's mother. "He loved everyone, tried to help everyone."
A memorial for 16-year-old Damien Thompson, Jr., who was killed over the weekend, sits near the intersection of Ponderosa and Bonita drives in Gulfport on Monday, February 2, 2017. "It was very hurtful that he was taken the way he was taken," said Catrease Hyde, Thompson's mother. "He loved everyone, tried to help everyone." amccoy@sunherald.com

A Gulfport woman said the shooting death of her 16-year-old grandson is almost more than she can bear.

Damien Thompson Jr. died of a gunshot wound Saturday after being shot on Ponderosa Drive, just west of Bonita Drive, in the Villa Del Rey neighborhood in west Gulfport.

His father and namesake was shot to death on Monterey Drive, one street north of Ponderosa, on March 4, 2013.

“It’s a repeat for me,” Leslie Thompson said.

Damien Sr. was her son. Damien Jr. was her grandson and had lived with her along with his older brother since birth.

“I have to be strong,” she said, “but all the prayers will help.”

Damien and 17-year-old Laderius Thompson, Damien’s older brother, grew up in the neighborhood. Thompson and the teens moved to Bayou View a year ago.

Gulfport police learned Damien had been shot after being called to the 4000 block of Ponderosa about 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Damien’s grandmother said the shooting was at the home of one of Damien’s friends.

“They thought of each other like brothers,” she said.

Damien was an 8th-grade student at the Gulfport Alternative School. His grandmother said he loved to play basketball and video games. If he wasn’t enjoying one, he was enjoying the other.

He also loved to eat spaghetti, corn and cornbread or garlic bread and to mix it all together, Leslie Thompson said. Her comment drew laughs from family and friends who gathered for a fish fry on Monday. They were outside a friend’s home at Ponderosa and Bonita drives, where neighbors were buying fish plates to help raise money for funeral expenses.

Damien and his older brother were inseparable, longtime family friend Veronica Shade said.

“If you saw the one, you saw the other,” Shade said.

His older brother was not with him Saturday morning.

Damien’s friend called Laderius on Saturday morning to tell him Damien had shot himself, the grandmother said.

“We don’t believe it for one minute,” Leslie Thompson said.

The teens have five younger siblings who live with their mother, Catrease Hyde.

Earlier Monday, Hyde said she wants to know what happened to her son. Police had released no information since Sunday, when they announced Damien’s death.

“He was supposed to be with friends that he trusted, and he wound up losing his life,” Hyde said. “It’s very hurtful the way he was taken.”

A balloon release to honor Damien’s memory on Sunday warmed Hyde’s heart.

Hyde said she wants to keep his memory alive and “to do what he would want me to do as his mother, to continue to strive to be positive and direct his younger friends to do the same, to have a positive outlook on life.”

Hyde said Damien was respectful, friendly, family-oriented and known for his big smile.

“If you were his friend, you were his family,” she said. “If you crossed him with his family or friends, he would react to that because he was protective.”

Damien wore his hair in short dreadlocks. He liked to tease his mother with his hair.

“Just one more time, I want him to walk through the door to come play with me. To wrestle with me, shake his face in my hair,” Hyde said. “I know it ain’t gone happen, but that’s what I hold on to.”

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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