CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A man charged in the shooting death of a Charleston teenager will appear in court Thursday afternoon for his preliminary hearing.

William Pulliam, 62, of Charleston, is accused of fatally shooting James Means, 15, on Charleston’s East End Nov. 21. Pulliam was charged with first degree murder.

William Pulliam

Charleston Police Department

William Pulliam

A criminal complaint filed by police said Pulliam admitted to the shooting and told officers he felt threatened. The shooting took place in the 1500 block of Washington Street East near the Dollar General Store, which is just a few blocks from the state Capitol.

It’s been nearly 10 days of struggle for the Charleston community.

“It’s a mixture of real heartfelt sadness and at the same time outrage that this would happen in our community,” said Perry Bryant, who lives on the city’s East End.

Bryant was at the state Capitol Wednesday afternoon for a scheduled gathering in connection with Means’ death. The event was canceled due to bad weather.

But the rain Wednesday wouldn’t have stopped Bryant from supporting the Means family.

“I’ve camped in much worse weather than this. I was prepared to march in the rain,” he said.

Bryant said he was there to see if there’s a way to “heal some of the wounds that this has caused” in the community.

Police are working to determine if the shooting meets the definition of a hate crime because Pulliam is white and Means was black.

Bryant said he thinks the community needs to address the issue of race.

“We still have a lot of families that are living in poverty that are predominately African-American. We need to be able to come together and understand each other and have a dialogue to overcome some of those racist barriers,” he said.

James Means, 15, was fatally shot on Charleston's East End.


James Means, 15, was fatally shot on Charleston’s East End.

Pulliam was not allowed to have a gun because of a previous domestic violence conviction when he allegedly killed Means, police said.

On Tuesday, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said the shooting raises policy questions regarding the state’s new gun law, enacted over his veto, that allows residents to carry a concealed gun without a permit.

“I think we ought to go back to screening people who have concealed weapon permits, making sure that they go through training so that they can understand how to use and when to use firearms,” Bryant said. “But just to have anybody have a concealed weapon is wrong in our neighborhood.”

According to the criminal complaint, Pulliam showed little remorse after the shooting. He allegedly told police, “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street.”

Bryant quickly defended that statement.

“No body else in my community would’ve considered James a piece of trash. I just found that outrageous,” he said.

Thursday’s hearing will be in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Pulliam is being held in the South Central Regional Jail without bail.

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