Clayton, N.C. — The steady stream of friends and relatives who arrived Wednesday for the funeral of slain college student Joshua Proutey reminded his mother of the crowds her son always used to draw around him.
Visitors poured into Cleveland Community Church in Clayton for hours. They came alone, or by the truckloads, to say goodbye to the 19-year-old West Johnston High School graduate who was shot to death during a robbery last week.
“We had children in and out of our door constantly, and this is no different,” said his mother, Patty Proutey. “It’s just like being at home, as if Josh is going to bound down the stairs and tell me to order pizza.”
Authorities said four suspects went into downtown Wilmington looking for targets to rob when they encountered Proutey, a student at Cape Fear Community College, and demanded his wallet. Proutey gave his assailants his wallet, which contained $10, his sandwich and his cellphone.
Proutey got into his car to leave and was shot in the head, police said.
“If there’s anything I’d like you to know about Joshua it’s that he was extraordinarily compassionate,” Patty Proutey said. “He was the funniest, wittiest, most fun to be around kid that you could ever (meet) … he attracted people to him because he was so funny."
Jasmine Nikole Dottin, Christopher Daniel Cromartie Jr., Daniel Edward Henry and Quintell Raheem Grady have been charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery in connection with the slaying.
They had a first appearance in court Monday, and three remained held without bond. Henry’s bond was set at $2 million.
But Proutey's mom didn’t want to focus Wednesday on the crime. She wanted to remember her son and all the joy that came with him.
“I’m going to celebrate Joshua’s life,” she said. “And if Joshua was here, he would say, ‘Mom, we’re going to have a big party and we don’t care about that. Right today, we don’t care about that.’ “
Joshua Proutey was in the process of enlisting in the Marine Corps, his mother said.
He will be buried Saturday.