GERMANTOWN - The community came together on Thursday night to remember a teenager who was killed in a barrage of gunfire that wounded three other teens.
A vigil was held for Jai Custus, who was shot on the 100 block of East Pastorius Street around 8:40 p.m. Tuesday.
Action News learned from the victim's family that as bullets began to fly, Jai ran towards the gunfire to get his young cousins out of harm's way, not knowing he would be fatally shot.
Speaking for her granddaughter Kia, Melinda Custus says those were the last words her grandson, Jai Custus said to his 13-year-old cousin as he ran towards East Pastorius and Baynton streets.
A bullet grazed Kia in the arm, and pierced Jai in the back, ending his life.
Jai's aunt Tenea Trippett said, "He ran past his house which he could have run in, but the other little children were still out, so he was making sure that the other children could get to where they needed to get."
His family calls his actions heroic, and they don't believe that he was the intended target, only collateral damage in the ongoing gun violence gripping city streets.
Gaylia Mercer, a friend said, "It's definitely not fair for his mom to grieve over her 16-year-old son and no one wants to come forward and say who murdered him."
Jai was remembered as a good friend and a model student who loved basketball.
"When something happens to somebody, we're all affected, and we will continue to be affected, but we will not forget him," said school founder Veronica Joyner.
"I still can't believe he's not here. I was just with him, helping him in math class, doing our work together," said friend Frederick Page. "And now he's not here anymore."
Boy, 16, killed in Germantown shooting; another teen in custody
Page is one of many students who wrote goodbye messages on a basketball to be given to Custus' family.
"He was a kind boy and he didn't bother anyone, he just wanted to play basketball, do his work and go to college," said classmate Breea Edwards.
Police have arrested an 18-year-old involved in the shooting, but believe more people could be involved.
"If you see something, say something please. I don't want another mother, grandmother to go through what I'm going through please," Custus said.
Jai's funeral is set for next Wednesday.
Anyone with information about the gunman is asked to contact the police.
Grief counselors have been at the school, and classmates have penned handwritten letters for Custus' brother.
Send a breaking news alert
Report a correction or typo
Learn more about the 6abc apps