Ultimately, an anonymous tipster called in to suggest Graham was the shooter. Sheriff's deputies brought the teenager, who had no rap sheet, in for questioning. While he talked, they noticed tattoos on his hand that matched the shooter's. The ink spelled Errica, Graham's mother's name.

They got a search warrant to photograph Graham's body. This time, his parents accompanied him to the police station. His mom, Errica Hearns, lives five blocks from the Alabama Georgia Grocery Store. His dad, Corey Graham Sr., lives west of Riviera Beach but used to cheer for his son at football games and make sure he kept his grades up.

It was Graham's dad who finally coaxed a confession, according to the sheriff's office.

The Alabama Georgia Grocery Store has been in Jimmy McMillan's family for seven decades.
Monica McGivern
The Alabama Georgia Grocery Store has been in Jimmy McMillan's family for seven decades.
Jimmy McMillan (left) was a champion bass fisherman and owner of the store his family had run for generations.
Courtesy of the McMillan Family
Jimmy McMillan (left) was a champion bass fisherman and owner of the store his family had run for generations.

"Why did you do it?" Corey Graham Sr. asked his son.

"For the money," Graham replied.

"Why did you shoot the man?"

"He reached for the gun."

Bradshaw and State Attorney Michael McAuliffe held an 11 p.m. news conference January 7 to announce Graham's arrest on charges of first-degree murder, robbery with a firearm, and aggravated assault with a firearm. Both men wore tuxedos, having rushed over to the jail from a fundraiser on Palm Beach. Their slick hair and pressed white collars made them seem all the more removed from the Belle Glade residents who had helped them solve the crime.

"The cooperation from the community was essential," Bradshaw gushed.

"This could be a turning point for us in winning community support," McAuliffe said.

It sounded like wishful thinking.


Sherrie Dulany speaks with a Southern drawl, slow as honey and wide as the fields of cane. She grew up in Belle Glade and raced back after college, homesick for the town where neighbors stop to help when your car stalls and phone when they see your kid misbehaving.

When she takes her daughter to gymnastics classes in Wellington, the other parents gasp when she mentions she's from Belle Glade. "Aren't you terrified to live there?" they ask.

Dulany insists she is not. "I don't think people realize the amount of love and sense of community there is out here," she says. "There are just very warm and caring people."

Yet McMillan's death shook her. Here was a man, just eight years older than she, who tried to help the community — giving away the fish he caught, paying for a neighborhood kid to go on a field trip. If he could be gunned down, was anyone safe?

"Things seemed to be getting of out of hand for a while," she says. "I guess, to me, what happened with Jimmy was just the straw that broke the camel's back. It just seemed extremely senseless to me."

In the days after his death, Dulany started a Facebook page called Take Back Belle Glade/The Glades Communities. More than 620 people have joined it. She posts information about meetings and antiviolence rallies and uses the page to recruit members for a citizens police academy, designed to help educate residents about what the cops really do. She serves on a citizens advisory board, acting as a liaison between the police and the community, and recruits volunteers for a citizens observers patrol, which reports suspicious behavior on the streets to the cops.

A former city commissioner, Dulany knows residents don't think the cops burn enough shoe leather in Belle Glade. Some deputies are sent out to the western community as punishment; others realize that Belle Glade residents — including migrants and ex-felons — are not a voting bloc the sheriff courts.

"Bradshaw doesn't give a crap about the western communities," says Mark Dougan, a former sheriff's deputy who worked in Belle Glade before leaving the force in 2008.

Yet Dulany says the deputies are busier than they appear, working undercover, tracking gangs. "There's a lot of misconceptions out there in the community about what PBSO does," she says.

She and other residents point out that crime is not unique to Belle Glade. Sheriff's officials told Dulany there were more shootings in West Palm Beach than in her town. But Belle Glade's small size — and a per-capita crime rate that's dramatically higher than West Palm's — makes the violence feel more intimate.

"It doesn't make you feel any safer, but it does make you realize it's not an isolated problem," Dulany says.

Dulany knows that the roots of Belle Glade's problems run deep. She's an elementary-school special-ed teacher and tutors some of her students for years after they leave her classroom. One young black man ended up breaking her heart.

She tutored Leonard all through high school. He had emotional and behavioral problems, didn't trust white people or police officers. But he trusted Dulany, who is white. When he came to her house for tutoring, he brought her 3-year-old daughter cookies and candies. Dulany introduced him to a friend who was a sheriff's deputy. The man gave Leonard his personal phone number and told the teenager to call if he was in trouble.

But trouble came anyway. Leonard dropped out of high school. He got caught pawning jewelry that did not belong to him. "I wrote him a letter in jail every single day," Dulany says. He wrote back, "Ms. Dulany, I want to get out of here, and I want to be the person you believe I can be." Dulany starts to cry while recalling it.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
PONYBOI LIVE
PONYBOI LIVE

THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THE TOWN ITS DA PPLS IN IT(SOME OF THE PPLS)THAT DONT WONT TO WORK LIKE OTHERS.ARE LET DRUGS TAKE OVER THEM.IN LIFE U HAVE TO WANT TO DO BETTER,AND SET GOALS....SMH.ETC.

Cartyerc
Cartyerc

There is a lot of talk about the "downgrading" the author did in this article. Back story on me, I was born in pahokee & raised in Belle Glade. I saw everything the author put in this article and more. Some of you say there is more to Belle Glade.... You're right.... There is also more to the world. The author isn't trying to put Belle Glade down. They are merely trying to shed light on a town that doesn't get the same publicity as the "wealthier" parts of Florida.

We love our city
We love our city

This is so sad how you can get on here and downgrade the City of Belle Glade people choose not to better themselves by sitting under a tree playing cards and drinking beer all day. If you want anything in life you have to work for it, its not coming to you and if you choose to sit on the corner or go to school or get a job its your choice. I watch the news everyday and West Palm Beach & surrounding cities are on the news with a higher crime rate than Belle Glade but the wealthy can cover up their crimes unlike the poor communities there is some positive in our town and you don't have to drag our name in the mud we are PROUD OF OUR CITY.

IloveBelleGlade
IloveBelleGlade

This is pointless!!! I don't see the purpose of this article. I see you start off bout Corey robbing the store, how the residents making a living then jump to people who choose not to do anything. What makes you degrade a town u never lived in, the people who live in it when u never been through what we been through growing. Yes this really offends me because I was born and raised in Belle Glade, Fl never had much growing up but im very happy to be the woman that I became. From what I've read you only listed the bad things about Belle Glade what about the good things. Yes we have a high crime rate but crime happens everywhere you go. Im done but to Whomever this maybe im proud of who I and where i came from and i dont care who dont like reruns you are very immature and illiterate etc

Jalou002
Jalou002

How can you write about a town that you wasn't raised in.. What smell like manure to you smells like home to us. There is more to BELLE GLADE then football and crimes. If your going to talk about the bad why not mention the good things that happens in belle glade. This town gives the families that are unemployed a chance to send their kids off to school. You mentioned the liquor store but u didn't mention the library that's across the street. You mention seeing kids hang around but you didn't mention the boys and girls club and YEA. There are crimes everywhere but yet belle glade crimes are bad. You mention the bad things about the school but u don't mention the kids thats in school on the coast that's doing drugs. O wow I guess that's not a big deal because they have parents that is wealthy enough to cover things up. They always say Another man's trash is another man treasure.... Belle Glade is my treasure

Vanessa
Vanessa

This is just plain out ridiculous. How can you down grade a city that you really dont't anything about. What was really the purpose of this article. Was it about a Robbery or did you jut want to say some things about belle glade. And for the record more than just criminals come out of belleglade. There are indeed successful people some just choose not to come back to belleglade due to the fact that their is very small opportunity. Instead of bad mouthing belleglade how about you write about helping belleglade.

Why33430
Why33430

I don't get the part about the smell of manure????  Hey if you want to hang out every day all day sitting under a tree playing games ie: gambling and drink beer (which both costs money from working or PUBLIC assitance which is created by others working while you are sitting and drinking beer) instead of being a "postive" role model to these "young" men wandering the streets with nothing to do but watch you drink beer and gamble, how do you have a right to complain about jobs?  Jobs only come to those who seek not sit a whine about their beer getting warm. 

Carloslndn2
Carloslndn2

Was this sopposed to be a story about a young man who robbed a store. Or are you writing a novel about the surrounding areas of okeechobee lake? .... You wrote a paragraph disrobing what belle glade looks,feels,smells like? .. Learn to get the point! Every time I read an article I have to skip multiple paragraphs to get the point. Mad annoying!

FQS9000
FQS9000

Their momma's are so proud of those two good boys.  The popo are framing them, as the store owner had it coming and probably shot himself.

Let's start up a defense fund and get these two wonderful lads back on the streets where they can loaf around, knock up more ho-bitches and shoot evil, greedy, white store owners who are exploiting the oppressed afro-american community.

Free the Belle Glades Two!!!!  No Justice, No Peace!!!!

Cartyerc
Cartyerc

I had more... The part regarding the people playing card games and such. How many times have we heard,"get your education, or end up at the packing house/loading ramp/sugar mill/bean field"? How is the author downgrading our city by spelling out the facts that are in a census for everyone to see? Take your pride out of the equation. Belle Gkade is

Betterbelleglade
Betterbelleglade

You can't defend something that is plainly caught on video!

Cartyerc
Cartyerc

*Belle Glade is stricken with poverty & crime. It's fact... I'm proud of my roots. I'm not to proud to face the truth. Think about it folks, if you disagree... Get out there & take our town back. Improve the community. Don't avoid the bad parts of town. Rebuild them. Love you all, I'm done.

FQS9000
FQS9000

I see my sarcasm missed you.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Are you going to believe what you see with your own eyes or what a brotha tells you.  

Betterbelleglade
Betterbelleglade

I would like to also know what an ordinary crime is? This article seems to put Belle Glade down harshly. For those that know what truly is, this article was a total slap in the face. We live here because we love it. Those that don't need to get out and quit giving it a bad name.

Betterbelleglade
Betterbelleglade

I believe what can be seen AND what he confessed to. Does there need to be more than that?

 
Loading...