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Fatal mistake: Harding graduate known for his ‘beautiful’ singing voice killed

Botham Shem Jean was the victim of a police officer who entered his apartment, mistaking it for her own, according to authorities.

By all accounts, Botham Shem Jean was a man of deep faith with a “beautiful” and “powerful” singing voice.

Relatives, friends and fellow Christians from the U.S. to his native St. Lucia expressed shock Friday upon learning of the 2015 Harding University graduate’s tragic death.

Related: ‘Botham is singing with the angels’: Shooting victim remembered at prayer vigil

Jean, 26, was fatally shot in Texas on Thursday night when an off-duty Dallas police officer entered his apartment, mistaking it for her own, authorities said.

Botham Shem Jean sings at the Dallas West Church of Christ in fall 2017.

Botham Shem Jean sings at the Dallas West Church of Christ in fall 2017.

“He led singing often in HU Chapel and at the College Church of Christ in Searcy,” said Glenn Dillard, assistant vice president for enrollment management at Harding, a Searcy, Ark., university that is associated with Churches of Christ.

Jean grew up in a Church of Christ on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

“Botham was a soldier of Christ,” his aunt, Desma Charles, told The Christian Chronicle, “committed to singing, song leading and teaching.” He was a “very vibrant young man who was well-loved by many and had the souls of men at heart.”

Charles, who worships with the Gros Islet Church of Christ in St. Lucia, said she talked with her nephew two weeks ago about “holding onto the Lord in challenging times.”

“I can say more, but my heart is too heavy,” she added. “All the congregations on the island are in grief — Gros Islet, L’Anse Road and Vieux Fort Church of Christ.”

Jean attended the Dallas West Church of Christ, which plans a prayer vigil in his memory at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said at a Friday afternoon news conference that police will seek a manslaughter charge against the officer. Hall declined to identify the officer pending the formal filing of the charge. Dallas police have asked the Texas Rangers to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting.

“Right now, there are more questions than we have answers,” Hall told reporters. The chief said the officer’s shift had ended, but she was still in uniform when she encountered Jean inside the apartment about 10 p.m. Thursday. The officer’s blood was drawn to test for drugs and alcohol, the chief said. Specific details about the shooting were scarce.

Jean and his family were active in the Caribbean Lectures, an annual gathering of members of Churches of Christ across the region. Jean was responsible for technology at the conference — audio and PowerPoint slides of songs for worship, said Ken Dye, a longtime missionary to the Caribbean and coordinator of the lectures. Jean’s mother, Allison, served on the lectures’ steering committee.

“He was a great song leader and a big part of the Caribbean Lectures,” Dye said of Jean. During his college years, Jean traveled from Harding back to the Caribbean to participate in the lectureship. He last attended the event about five years ago, Dye said.

Michael Stewart, a member of the Church of Christ Canaan on the island of Tobago, told the Chronicle that Jean and his family “have been instrumental to the church — not only in St. Lucia but in all the Caribbean.”

Elton Terry, minister for the St. Thomas Church of Christ in the U.S. Virgin Islands, remembered Jean as a gifted song leader who always wore a smile.

“I am in deep pain for my brother and friend, also for his parents and other family members,” Terry said. “This is so sad and such a loss for the Christian brotherhood, especially in this region and the Harding University community.”

Tracy Moore, who preaches for the Vero Beach Church of Christ in Florida, said: “I used to go to the Caribbean Lectures and met him there. An impressive young man. A powerful singer and always a spirit of joy that flowed from him.”

“He had a passion for service and uplifting leaders. He was a man of great joy.”

Cana Moore (no relation to Tracy Moore) is student association president at Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn. She said she knew Jean as a leader during their time as undergraduates at the Searcy campus.

“He was involved in a wide variety of ways, primarily serving in places where help was needed,” Cana Moore said. “He had a passion for service and uplifting leaders. He was a man of great joy. His greatest service … was constantly pointing back to God as our focus.”

Jean, who studied accountancy at Harding, worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” the company said in a statement.“Botham Jean was a member of the PwC family in our Dallas office, and we are simply heartbroken to hear of his death.”

In an official statement on its website, Harding noted:

The Harding family learned this morning of the tragic death of 2016 alumnus Botham Jean who was shot in his home last night. Originally from St. Lucia, Botham was a member of Good News Singers, a resident assistant, an intern for the Rock House campus ministry, and a leader in Sub T-16 men’s social club.

Botham frequently led worship for chapel and for campus events such as Uplift, and this morning, President Bruce McLarty shared his favorite memory of Jean with students in chapel.

“At Lectureship one year, I asked him to lead singing one night. Because of the subject, there was a particular old hymn that I asked him if he would mind leading,” McLarty said. “He didn’t say anything about not knowing the song, but he had never heard it before in his life. He came up that evening and was just smiling and excited about leading it. He told me he had never heard the song before, but that day, he called back to St. Lucia and asked his grandmother to teach him that old hymn on the phone. So he shared it with us at Lectureship that night, and it was a truly special moment.”

The entire Harding family grieves today for the loss of Botham Jean, who has meant so very much to us. Please join us in praying for Botham’s friends and family.

Dallas police issued the following statement:

On September 6, 2018 at about 9:59 p.m., an off duty Dallas Police officer called police dispatch and said she was involved in a shooting at the apartments located at 1210 S. Lamar.

Preliminary information suggests that the officer arrived home in full uniform after working a full shift. The officer reported to the responding officers that she entered the victim’s apartment believing that it was her own. At some point, the officer fired her weapon striking the victim. Responding officers administered aid to the victim, a 26-year-old male, at the scene. The victim was then transported to the hospital and pronounced deceased. Next of kin notification has not been made at this time.

The officer was not injured and will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Dallas Police Department is conducting a joint investigation with the District Attorney’s Office. This investigation is ongoing and we will release additional details as they become available and it is appropriate to do so.

This incident will be documented on case number 198543-2018.

Others paid tribute to Jean on social media:




We’ll follow developments and update this story with the latest.

Filed under: Botham Shem Jean Harding University National Texas Top Stories

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