CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The family of a shooting victim united with the alleged gunman’s relatives during a candlelight vigil on Monday.
“I can’t be mad at this family, I just can’t,” said Gilberto Wyche.
Wyche’s son, 20-year-old Jaonta “Jay” Wyche, was shot to death on Seaboard Avenue shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday. Police told 10 On Your Side the incident was an accident that occurred as Wyche and 20-year-old Juan Perry were handling a shotgun.
According to family, Wyche and Perry were close friends who lived together on Seaboard.
“They’ve been friends for so long and I just really feel like it was a mistake,” the victim’s mother said. “I hear my son saying, ‘Mom, it was a mistake.'”
Perry remained at the scene after the shooting. He is charged with voluntary manslaughter.
The defendant’s family joined the Wyches and dozens of loved ones for Monday night’s vigil at the scene.
“My son is suffering, that’s his best friend,” Perry’s father told WAVY’s Liz Kilmer.
10 On Your Side requested an interview with Perry from jail on Monday but he declined.
The Wyche family doesn’t want him behind bars.
“My son’s gone, I won’t ever see him again,” the victim’s mother said. “But at the end of the day, whatever I have to do, if I have to go to court, if I have to testify… anything… I’m gonna try my best to see [Perry] walk.”
A Wyche family member told 10 On Your Side that they hope their forgiveness can send a positive message to the community — you can seek peace after violence.
“Everybody in the world that’s out here shooting people and killing people — you can’t change yesterday, but you can definitely change today and tomorrow.”