Staff Photo: John Bohn
LaTajisia Paris, left, and Stephanie Trudo, right, look on while Gwinnett County Police officers investigate the scene of the fatal shooting of a 14-year old male Grayson High School Student at 2706 Haynescrest Drive in Grayson on Thursday afternoon. According to police, the victim's father discovered his son, deceased from a gunshot wound, inside the home. Paris, is a friend and tutor to the deceased student.
GRAYSON — Every day after school, 14-year-old Paul Sampleton would call LaTajisia Paris, his classmate at Grayson High School and unofficial language arts tutor.
On Wednesday, the final day of classes before winter break, the phone lines were silent.
Gwinnett County police said Sampleton’s father came home to the family’s townhome on Haynescrest Drive at about 2:40 p.m. Wednesday. He found his son dead, shot during an apparent robbery.
“He was just here today,” an emotional Paris said. “He was just here.”
Police released little information about the believed homicide. Spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said Sampleton had gone to school for Wednesday’s half-day, and was fatally shot at some point when he returned home.
Detectives believe some kind of robbery was involved, though they were not sure if the young teen was targeted, was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or something else altogether. Suicide or an accidental shooting were not believed to be possibilities.
“Some things inside the house make detectives think it was a robbery,” Smith said.
The rows of newer brick townhomes just off U.S. Highway 78 were swarmed by authorities Wednesday afternoon and evening, as detectives patrolled through and interviewed neighbors and potential witnesses.
A large group of Sampleton’s family crowded inside the area cordoned off by police tape, mourning together.
“He was really sweet and nice,” Paris said, “and I just wish the best for his mom. She’s down there just breaking down ... We were both calling people to see if they saw him, if he was on the bus or anything.”
Smith said his colleagues had “several good leads” that would be fully vetted. No more details were released.
Paris struggled to grasp what had happened.
“I just didn’t get a call,” she said.