(pictured above: Flowers and candles sit near the spot where Jerome France died last month after he was intentionally hit by a pick-up truck.)
The life of Jerome Dwayne France was celebrated last Thursday near the site where it came to a savage end.
More than 150 of France’s family members and friends gathered for a solemn vigil near the intersection of New Walkertown Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. France died in that immediate vicinity in the wee hours of April 27 after being struck by a pick-up truck driven by Travis Scott Weakley, 27, who has been charged with second-degree murder and felony hit and run. France had turned 39 just the day before his death.
At the vigil – which included the lighting of candles and erecting of a makeshift floral memorial – loved ones recalled France’s big heart, wide smile and his love of the Lord.
“He was a good man. He cared for his kids,” said Dimico Gore, 22, one of France’s seven children.
France had had entanglements with the criminal justice system and spent time behind bars, but Gore said his dad had left that life far behind.
“He was getting his life right. He went to church every Sunday,” said Gore, who like many at the vigil, wore a white t-shirt with images of France screen-printed across it.
It is unclear what precipitated Weakley’s actions. Police say that France was a passenger in Weakley’s truck prior to him being struck.
“The investigation revealed that Mr. France and Mr. Weakley were involved in an altercation just prior to the collision,” a police report states.
Gore said he doesn’t believe his father knew Weakley, who has prior convictions for felony breaking and entering and resisting arrest.
“He didn’t even know the dude; he was just getting a ride,” Gore said. “Whatever happened in the car, I really don’t know.”
France’s is the lastest in a spate of homicides that have bedeviled police. His was the sixth homicide of 2014. Last year at this time, there had been only one murder. France’s case is rare. The victim was African American, and the assailant is white. In the vast majority of homicides and other serious crimes, the victim and the perpetrator are the same race. At a community forum in March that addressed violent crime, Winston-Salem Assistant Police Chief Wilson Weaver said that locally more than 90 percent of the crimes against blacks are perpetrated by other blacks.
Weakley is in the Forsyth County Detention Center under a $750,000 bond. His court date has been scheduled for May 15. France was laid to rest on Saturday.