Teen slain in 1st homicide of '09

North Charleston police work the scene of a homicide Thursday night near the corner of Accabee Road and Van Smith Avenue. Witnesses say 17-year-old Parrish Greene was shot and killed by an unknown gunman.

Phillip Walker says he will never forget the look on Parrish Greene's face at the first shot.

Greene flinched in surprise at the blast and then ran for his life, but the gunman followed and kept shooting until the 17-year-old lay dead under an oak tree behind Mary Ford Elementary School, Walker said.

Minutes later Thursday night, his mother was at the scene, rocking herself back and forth, crying out in grief.

"Oh, oh," she said, over and over.

One by one, friends and family members arrived at the darkened street behind the crime-scene tape and learned that the former North Charleston High School student was dead of multiple gunshot wounds. Some screamed. Some dropped to the ground. Others yelled out in anger.

Another young man dead. North Charleston's first homicide of the year.

Police were investigating but had no suspects. Walker said he did not recognize the gunman.

Walker, 23, was riding his bicycle on Accabee Road about 6:30 p.m. on his way to the school to attend a GED course. Greene and his sister were ahead of him, walking in the same direction.

Along came a group of young men, and as they passed Greene one of them asked, "Is that you?" Greene responded, "No," Walker said. Then the gunfire started.

After watching the shooting, Walker suddenly realized his own life was at risk. He laid down the bike and ran on Van Smith Avenue alongside Greene's sister, who was yelling out, "They shot my brother."

"It happened so fast. It went down so crazy," Walker said. "He was just an innocent person walking down the street."

Later at Medical University Hospital, Greene's family confirmed his identity.

His cousin, Dalvis Hills, said his relatives were shocked by the senseless death.

"We can't believe it," Hills said. "We didn't know Parrish for getting into any trouble."

Police Chief Jon Zumalt mobilized the clergy, elder James Johnson said. Johnson met with a group of about 50 friends and family at the hospital. They gathered outside the emergency room doors and bowed their heads.

"Sometimes things happen that we can't understand," Johnson prayed. "We ask you in the name of Jesus for comfort for his mother."

Johnson plans to meet with the family today to talk about the dangers of retaliation. Police and the clergy are working together to stop revenge killings.

"They lost a son tonight," Johnson said. "If they do that (retaliate), they will lose another one."

Johnson's eyes welled with tears as he spoke.

"I've been doing it so long, and it never gets easier," he said.