|Community shows outpouring of support for slain Gwinnett teen|
|Written by Valerie J. Morgan|
Heading back to school this month will be tough for Gwinnett County’s Grayson High School students.
Many are still grieving the loss of 14-year-old Paul Sampleton, who was shot and killed during the holiday break at the townhome he shared with his mother on Haynescrest Drive in Grayson.
Police are still investigating several leads, including one that Sampleton might have been killed over his sneaker collection. Friends said he owned several pairs of high-priced basketball sneakers that he traded and sold over the internet as part of the so-called “shoe game.” Police are checking the teen’s social media outlets and other tips.
Sampleton was the third student at Grayson killed in 2012. Hope Mackenzie, 17, died in a car accident on Jan. 8 and Brittany Sailors, 16, died in a car wreck on July 2.
The community gathered to pray with Paul Sampleton’s mom, Stephanie Stone, at a vigil held at the school. Tough football players wept uncontrollably as the students comforted one another, trying to make sense of the tragic slaying of who many described as a nice, fun young man.
Paul Sampleton, Sr. of Lithonia discovered his son’s body after he became worried that no one had heard from Paul after he finished his school exams on Dec. 19.
“I scrambled him some eggs and made blueberry pancakes that morning,” said Stone. “I never knew in a million years that when I said goodbye to him that it would be the last time that I saw him.”
Stone was at work when her son was killed. She said she began calling her home around 11:45 a.m., the time she expected Paul to be home from school. Paul, who was 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, played on the 9th grade football team at Grayson. His dad was supposed to pick him up so he could work out at a gym at 3 p.m. Stone wanted to make sure he kept the appointment.
After several unsuccessful attempts to reach Paul, Stone called the teen’s father who went by her townhouse.
“He was hysterical when he called me. He told me that I needed to get home immediately,” said Stone.