Justin Ingle was always one to smile and crack jokes spontaneously. While his father shopped inside Wal-Mart, the 12-year-old boy often walked around the store with a video camera and took selfies with strangers.
“The looks on their faces were like, ‘What is this kid doing?’” his father, Steve Ingle, told msnbc. He said his son sometimes borrowed his classmates’ cellphones to take pictures of himself, and then left the images on their devices as mementos. Always hoping to brighten people’s days, Justin managed to influence his fellow students to join him in fits of laughter during class.
Justin, who at the beginning of August began sixth grade in his hometown of McAlester, Oklahoma, aspired to hold many different careers, including one as a rapper and another as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, influenced by his older brother. Whichever profession he chose, though, he was set on receiving a higher education.
When Justin couldn’t manage a task on his own, he turned to YouTube to research and learn from other users. His interests changed each year, his father said, noting his son’s previous enthusiasm for bicycles and motorcycles. Skateboarding was his newest hobby, and he created a team with his friends, titled “Stoked Skater.” He performed tricks and filmed himself attempting the maneuvers.
But even as an adolescent boy, Justin respected others and cared for younger children. His mother, Kristine Norris, could only recall one time she grew angry at him — when he ran into a parking lot. Aside from that one incident, she said, he was “above average on everything.”
His father said Justin stood out among his siblings because of his upbeat personality, adding, “He didn’t take everything so serious.”
Justin was shot with a pellet gun during a sleepover in McAlester on Aug. 15, 2014. He died in the hospital the next day.