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Friends, neighbors salute 'D.J.' killed on Valrico basketball court

From left, family friend Lisa Lovelace, David James’ wife, Kanina, his sister Donna Edmunds, and his daughter Danielle attend a candlelight vigil Thursday at the basketball court in the Twin Lakes subdivision where David James lost his life.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

From left, family friend Lisa Lovelace, David James’ wife, Kanina, his sister Donna Edmunds, and his daughter Danielle attend a candlelight vigil Thursday at the basketball court in the Twin Lakes subdivision where David James lost his life.

VALRICO

The wailing began almost immediately.

On Thursday night, David James' sister approached a memorial of flowers, flags and a cross made of tree branches — marking the spot where her brother took his last breath.

"How could someone do this to my brother?" Donna Edmunds moaned in the arms of a friend.

She came to a basketball court in the Twin Lakes subdivision for a candlelight vigil in honor of James, who was fatally shot Sunday afternoon after an altercation over skateboarding teens.

A school bus driver, Trevor Dooley, 69, who lives across the street from the basketball court, has been charged with manslaughter.

More than 80 friends, neighbors and co-workers of James gathered for the ceremony organized by Carolyn Mourey, 47, a close friend of the family.

She put out 100 fliers Wednesday night and called local news stations to get the word out. The Twin Lakes Homeowners Association sent out a postcard that was delivered to everyone in the subdivision Thursday.

"This community needs to be healed," she explained.

Edmunds came from Minnesota with her parents and husband to support her brother's widow, Kanina, 41, and their daughter, Danielle, 8, who was playing basketball with her dad when he died.

But as Edmunds approached a poster of her brother, looking back over his shoulder and smiling, she broke down again.

James' father, Don James, tearfully thanked the crowd for coming and said it made him feel good to know that his son, called D.J., was so loved.

"All you people that are here tonight are pulling together," Don James said. "That's what we need."

James' mother said she has had it with all the death and destruction in society.

"All this violence — it has got to stop," Toni James said. "Families are too important."

Mourners thanked the parents for raising the kind of man who brought smile to those around him — a joker, a good friend and a role mode.

Neighbor Mike Torres said James would hear a stranger in the neighborhood complaining about something that needed to be repaired and would say, "Come on, let's go fix it right now."

James was an engineer by trade and worked as facilities manager for L3 Communications, co-workers said.

"The office has been really quiet this week," said David McCullum, 50, who worked with James.

Before the crowd dispersed into the darkness, it raised candles toward the sky and offered a final salute.

"To D.J.," it echoed through the cul-de-sac's serene quiet.

And then some planted their candles in the grassy spot where he died — illuminating the cross made of tree branches.

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or rmitchell@sptimes.com.

Friends, neighbors salute 'D.J.' killed on Valrico basketball court 09/30/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 30, 2010 11:47pm]
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