Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shooting Victim's Family Struggles to Pay for Funeral; Taurean Pitts' Family Says He Was Struck by a Stray Bullet

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shooting Victim's Family Struggles to Pay for Funeral; Taurean Pitts' Family Says He Was Struck by a Stray Bullet

Article excerpt

Byline: Derek Gilliam

Taurean Pitts' family members and friends gathered outside the house he lived in with his parents and shared stories about the 25-year-old who was shot and killed in an apparent robbery at a Westside apartment complex earlier this month.

His family said he was inside a unit at Canterbury Gardens Apartments when a friend of his was involved in a robbery just outside. Apryl Wesley, his older sister, said her brother's friend was shot multiple times Aug. 2 before a stray bullet crashed through a window and killed Pitts.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office would not release the location of where they found Pitts or other details about the shooting. Police have not announced an arrest in the case.

Emergency personnel rushed the friend to a local hospital where he remains, Wesley said. The Times-Union doesn't identify potential victims of violent crimes unless an arrest is made.

"From the information that I got, he [Pitts] was on his phone, as usual, and he looked out the window [when he heard the gunshots] because his friend was outside," she said. "And once he looked out, he caught the bullet."

The unexpected death has the family scrambling to pull money together for a funeral. They have about half of the $4,000 needed.

Both of Pitts' parents are retired and have medical difficulties.

His sister said that because her brother had a few misdemeanors - one for domestic battery and another for possession of drug paraphernalia - a state fund that helps pay for unexpected costs caused by violent crimes initially rejected Pitts' application.

His father said he's working with a victim's advocate to see if there's anything that can be done to reverse that decision.

Leonard Pitts, 64, suffers from diabetes and must hook up to a dialysis machine about three times a week. This month, the family didn't pay rent or the utility bill because the money is needed for the funeral.

Pitts' 63-year-old mother, Loretta Pitts, also has medical issues that prevent her from walking without aid. …

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