Hylton junior football player James Parker, an all-state linebacker who helped lead the Bulldogs to a state championship last fall, was killed Friday night in what police have called an accidental shooting.
At about 8:15 p.m. Friday, Parker, 17, was a passenger in a parked car driven by another teenager in the Mapledale section of Dale City when a 16-year-old approached the car with a handgun to show to Parker and the driver, said Dennis Mangan, Prince William County police spokesman. The gun went off and Parker was hit, Mangan said.
The driver fled on foot and the other teenager got into the car and drove Parker to the Hillendale Fire Station. Parker died of the gunshot injuries while at the fire station, Mangan said.
One of the teens has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless handling of a firearm and possession of a handgun by a person under 18 years old, Mangan said.
The shooting first was reported in yesterday's Potomac News.
Hylton players and coaches gathered at Parker's home over the weekend, and a team meeting has been called for this morning before school.
"We saw each other and comforted each other just to make it easier for us when we go to school tomorrow," senior linebacker Donovan Bates said last night after visiting Parker's family. "But it's still going to be hard. It's like I still can't believe it. I still want to get a phone call to say he's all right, but it's not going to happen."
"Obviously, he was a dynamic player and very talented, but what a lot of people don't know is that he was a great, great kid, a great leader," Hylton Coach Lou Sorrentino said. "He had a smile that would light up a room."
Nicknamed "Bear," Parker was a vital cog on the Hylton defense that allowed just 50 points in going 13-1 and winning the Virginia AAA Division 6 title. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Parker made 116 tackles, including 10 for losses, with five sacks, five caused fumbles and an interception. Hylton beat Oakton, 6-0, in the state championship game.
Parker, who would have turned 18 in two weeks, was one of three junior linebackers on the team, but was projected to play more at running back next season. He carried 15 times last fall but would have been the Bulldogs' leading returning rusher with 96 yards.
It was the second death involving a Hylton football player in recent months. Junior varsity player Dustin Pacifico was killed in a car accident this winter.
"A lot of people are trying to make sense out of it, and that's hard to do," Sorrentino said of Parker's death. "He was a popular kid. It's going to hit the whole school hard."