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'He was always smiling,' mom says in mourning son killed at Riverview party

PALM RIVER — Every memory of Craig Thompson ends with a smile.

Like the time he went to the doctor with his pregnant girlfriend, Aurnita Hall, and asked a million questions.

"Can she lie on her stomach? Can she eat hot sauce?"

Hall, 18, smiled at the anecdotes, even as she mourned the 22-year-old's death. Thompson was shot at a Riverview party and died early Saturday. A family friend, Iesha Washington, was also shot and killed at the party at a rented hall on U.S. 41.

Family gathered Tuesday night and talked about the former Blake High wide receiver and the smiles they'll never forget.

Once, Thompson decided to bust out some of his goofiest dance moves for a friend who recorded the gag and put it on YouTube.

That one made his mother, Nitika Walker, smile.

In most photos, you can see Thompson's top row of teeth.

"He was always smiling. See? He was an outgoing all-around good guy," Walker said. "I don't know why anyone would want to take his life."

Hall's mother, Rosezine Killins, remembers when Thompson showed up at his girlfriend's graduation from Spoto High this spring with a bouquet of flowers.

"My nieces were yelling his name and you should have seen the look on his face. He said, 'Oh my God,' " said Killins, laughing at Thompson's embarrassment.

All three women agreed he was trying to do his best for a baby on the way. He loved kids and served as a youth coach in the past, Walker said. As a student, he also played baseball, soccer, basketball and ran track.

Thompson was looking for work and recently joined St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Progress Village.

"He came to me and said, 'I want to do better,' " Walker remembered.

He used his hope to succeed to help others.

"I wouldn't have even graduated high school if it wasn't for him," Hall said. Thompson would pester her about homework and make sure she went to class no matter how tired she was.

Walker said she's happy that a suspect, Tyrell Sidney Bragg, has been charged with Washington's murder. Walker hopes she can say the same about her son's killer soon. Investigators have not linked Bragg to his death.

"Can my son get some justice?" she asked.

Thompson wasn't even supposed to be at the party, Walker said. When she last saw him at 1 p.m. Friday, he said he was going to a friend's, she recalled.

The party swelled to 300 or 400 people, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Deputies said Bragg caused problems at the party and shot into the crowd after he was kicked out.

But they are not certain he was the only shooter.

"We're devastated and very hurt," Walker said. "I just want to know why someone would do this."

Services Aug. 13

Craig Thompson's funeral will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 13 at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church at 5202 S 86th St. in Tampa.

'He was always smiling,' mom says in mourning son killed at Riverview party 08/02/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 11:48pm]
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