- Family and friends gathered at Hampton Hall on Saturday afternoon to remember a 13-year-old Bluffton boy fatally shot June 26, allegedly by another teenager.
A rising eighth-grader at Bluffton Middle School, Joshua Lee was killed early the morning of June 26 at a home in Bluffton's Grande Oaks neighborhood.
David Barriantos Bruno, 17, has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter in Lee's death, accused of carelessly handling a gun that went off, striking Lee in the torso, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
The memorial service drew more than 200 people and emphasized the family's faith. Lee lived with his parents, Ray and Betty Lee, and his 7-year-old brother in Bluffton's Brighton Oaks neighborhood. The family attended Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness.
Anthony Jnbaptiste, an elder with the church, told those in attendance of God's promise of eternal life through faith in Christ. He assured them that because of the resurrection, they could hope to again see loved ones who have died.
"We can be very sure this will happen because Jehovah said that," Jnbaptiste said. "That's something to really look forward to."
Those in attendance remembered Lee's outgoing personality and infectious smile.
Lee's classmate at Bluffton Middle, Valentina Pereira, said he was one of her best friends and loyal to a fault.
"He was always there for me," Pereira said.
After Lee's death, his 22-year-old sister Grecia Munoz said he had been "pulled down the wrong path" by older teens.
Investigators believe Bruno, Lee and an unidentified third teen at the home might have been involved in gang activity together, such as vehicle break-ins, Sheriff P.J. Tanner said Monday. Bruno, who is being held on $110,000 bond at the Beaufort County Detention Center, could face up to five years in prison if convicted. He has also been charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol and pointing a firearm.
After the service, guests formed a line that stretched the length of the auditorium to offer condolences to Lee's parents.
Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/blufftonblogip.