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Slain Virginia high school football player remembered as being 'good at everything'

Justice Dunham died in a shooting after a basketball game at Menchville High School
Justice Dunham
Posted at 1:27 PM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 13:29:10-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A heartbroken community is mourning the 17-year-old who was killed in a shooting after a basketball game at Menchville High School Tuesday night.

Friends and family held a candlelight vigil for Justice Dunham Thursday night.

Justice Dunham.jpg
Justice Dunham

Justice's father Mike Dunham is keeping his son’s memory alive.

“I will never forget you, and I hope nobody else does either,” Mike Dunham said about his son during the vigil. “I love you.”

Dunham played football for Woodside High School. His 17th birthday was last week.

A growing memorial in the parking lot where Justice Dunham died has doubled in size since Wednesday night.

Members of the shattered Newport News community were comforting one another through the tears and heartache.

“There’s not a whole lot we can do at this point other than just kind of celebrate his life and try to get a positive message out so we’re not doing something like this again,” said Mike Dunham. “I just want everyone to know Justice was a good boy. I think my son was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Justice Dunham
Justice Dunham

Police say Justice was leaving a basketball game at Menchville High School Tuesday night when another student, Demari Batten, 18, shot and killed him.

Batten claims he was jumped. Dunham’s father said the details don’t matter, lives do.

“I know my son was found on the ground, didn’t have any weapons,” he said. “He had abrasions and different things on his face when I got a chance to see him.”

Justice’s close friend Flor Sanchez is still in disbelieve. She said they had their entire lives planned out.

“We were really close friends,” said Sanchez as she wiped away tears. “We’ve known each other forever. That kid was really ambitious. Really one of my role models. We kind of supported each other. We talked about our futures so much….We had a lot of future goals together. We both wanted to be real estate agents. We had our whole name. We had our whole business plan figured out. So, everything I do in the future is for you, Justice. Everything.”

Justice Dunham Vigil
Justice Dunham Vigil

Justice’s father says he was a good student, friend and a force to be reckoned with on the football field and basketball court.

“He’d play you in checkers if you wanted to play,” Mike Dunham said. “He was just a very competitive young man who was good at everything he tried.”
Most of all, Dunham says Justice was a great son.

“Justice was an awesome, awesome young man,” he said. “He was an all-star athlete. He was an all-star person. He was a generous, young man. He was just a good kid. He had two great parents that were very involved in his life that he had every single day. He had great plans for college and was a good kid. He was a great kid.”

Besides two loving parents, Justice also leaves behind an older brother. His father said Justice was planning on joining his brother at the same college at James Madison University.

“We love you, Justice,” community members said at the vigil. “Long live Justice.”

Woodside says they're planning a memorial for the teen after winter break.

Dunham's family members are also asking for any donation that's made in his honor to go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula. They said they hope this money can help the organization to get a new football field or update a basketball court.

If you'd like to donate, click here. Just check the box that says, "I would like to dedicate this donation," then choose, "In memory of" and please write, "Justice Dunham."

RELATED: Friends heartbroken over loss of Woodside football player that was fatally shot after basketball game