AIKEN, S.C (WJBF)– Monday marks the first day of school for Aiken County students and while most kids will be starting off the year with excitement, students at midland valley high school will be mourning the loss of not only a classmate, but a friend.
“They all were supposed to start school tomorrow, together,” said Pamela Grandy, a library aide at Byrd Elementary.
Funny, smart, and friendly are just a few words used to describe Nathaniel Johnson or as his friends would call him Nate.
“He was always really happy, he never really did anything that would get him into trouble, he was just a good kid all around. He really didn’t deserve it,” said Matthew Grandy, Nathaniel’s best friend.
This quiet community now turned upside down after the deadly shooting.
“I didn’t believe it,” said Michael Weathers, Nathaniel’s best friend.
Michael Weathers was one of Nathaniel’s best friends. They were a part of a close-knit group that would roam the neighborhood together.
“We rode the bus together pretty much everyday afterschool. Sometimes after we’d walk around the trails go explore, walk down the trails in Midland Valley,” said Weather.
“The boys would go walking and they would take their dogs and all of that and we knew, we thought that they would all be safe,” said Pamela Grandy.
A tradition that will never be the same for Nathaniel’s friends.
“It was worse yesterday, but I’m getting better,” said Weathers.
“It’s really shocking that it happened I mean no one expected it,” said Matthew Grandy.
Investigators say the 14-year-old was shot and killed Saturday afternoon by 30-year-old Larry Bernard Mackie. Mackie was also a suspect in another shooting at the family dollar in Wrens. Michael says he ran to Nathaniel’s house just moments after hearing the news.
“Then I saw the yellow tape everywhere. At first, I didn’t think it was him,” said Weathers.
Friends say Mackie was Nathaniel’s stepbrother and police confirm that Mackie was related to Nathaniel by marriage. Friends tell News Channel 6 that they didn’t know much about Nathaniel’s family.
They also say he was living with his grandmother and grandfather at the time of the shooting. Nathaniel’s grandfather was also suffering from gunshot wounds to the leg and arm when police responded.
“Why was it Nathan, you know, did he answer the door? I would hate to know that this child went through any agony, you know that he had to deal with this so it you know, it breaks your heart,” said Pamela Grandy.
This close group of friends now forever intertwined by loss.
“Just long live Nate, he didn’t deserve it,” said Matthew Grandy.