HOLMBERG: Family speaks about the teen killed in Jackson Ward robbery

Posted at 11:50 PM, Jul 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-05 23:50:28-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Jett Higham, 18, had just finished dinner at his family’s W. Clay Street home in Jackson Ward Tuesday night when he went for a walk to get some candy.

Police say he was shot to death three blocks away, in the first block of E. Marshall Street, in what they say was a robbery gone wrong.

“They say it was a robbery gone awry,” cried his older sister, Cosima Higham, as she sat on her family’s living room sofa with her mother and father. “It didn’t feel like it went awry. They took their son. They took my brother. It feels like a very successful robbery to me.”

Jett and his father had just returned to Richmond for the summer from the family home in Brooklyn. Other relatives were in town for the holiday.

Jett, considered to be a natural photographer and artist, had a sweet tooth. He had an after-dinner ritual of walking to the store after dinner.

“Go for a walk and come back with like a ton of candy that we always screamed at him about,” said his mother, Toni-Leslie James.

The 6-foot-3-inch Jett was shot in the neck, apparently after not giving up his cell phone and the four dollars he had in his pocket quickly enough. His parents say defending yourself should not be a death sentence.

“He left out of here at 10:45,” his mother said. “He was shot at 10:50. He was three blocks away. I walk behind there every day. I walk my dog by there every day.”

Richmond police arrested three young men fairly quickly and charged them with conspiracy to commit murder. Myles Sanders, 20, lived just three blocks away, on East Clay Street. An unidentified 16-year-old has also been arrested, along with 18-year-old Billy Reynolds of South Richmond.

Both Jett’s parents are educators, his mother a theater professor at VCU. They say their son was a dreamer, a physically striking young man who found himself as an extra in a number of films and TV shows, without trying.

“The whole thing was, he was just getting started,” said his father, David Higham. “Everything was just starting to fall into place for him. He got through high school . . . he was starting to work. And he loved to work.”

He had a larger-than-life personality, an infectious innocence and grand plans about having his own clothing line and being a millionaire.

“He was just that type of kid,” his mother said. People in New York City would walk up to him on the street and give him cards to do modeling, she said.

“This is another example of the senseless gun violence that goes on the streets of this country every single day,” David Higham said. “And why it’s so important to have some kind of gun control.”

Jett’s parents say their needs to be “more feet on the street” - more police officers walking the beat in Jackson Ward, which has been plagued by robberies this year and last.

This family is devastated by the waste. They say 18 years with Jett just isn’t enough.

“He was a good spirit,” his father said.

“He’s supposed to be here,” his sister said, crying. “He’s supposed to be bugging me.”