For Christmas last year, Jarmaine Walton, 15, bought his mother and grandmother heart necklaces that say, “I love you forever,” a sentiment he expressed daily. He always remembered his mother at the holidays, and bought her a card if he couldn’t afford a present.
“Every time he left home he said, ‘Mom, I love you,’” his mother, Valarie McKinney, told msnbc.com.
His grandmother, Margie Saxton, said she spoiled him by taking him out to dinner at restaurants while teaching him life lessons about using a credit card and the ATM machine. He often accompanied McKinney to the grocery store to keep her company. Of course, it was also a chance to ask her to buy his favorite items like cheeseburgers, marshmallows, whipped cream, and milk. Jarmaine, of Birmingham, Ala., enjoyed Taco Bell but especially loved when his mother made homemade tacos. He liked to watch football on TV and go to University of Alabama football games. His uncle bought him the necessary equipment to play, but he quit after one summer because he “didn’t like getting hit,” Saxton said.
Anyone speaking about Jarmaine would say he had a big heart, his aunt, Patricia Pickett, told msnbc.com. Before his death he had been preparing for a job interview at Elyton Village Community Center where he worked last summer as a peer counselor with children in the area. In his position he led a group of children of all ages in playing outside games, creating art projects, and volunteering to clean the neighborhood. He took out the trash and swept the floor at the community center even during the school year when he wasn’t employed. Jarmaine told his mother he wanted to be a police officer when he grew older, but other relatives said he probably would have chosen a career in which he could interact with kids.
Jarmaine was shot and killed by an unidentified assailant in a Birmingham public park on March 17. Police are still looking for the suspect. Anyone with information can call the Birmingham Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777.