Article 2: Shooting victim remembered as ‘gentle spirit’

From The Macon Telegraph

By Sharon E. Crawford, The Macon Telegraph

MACON (Aug. 19, 2003) – Atlanta police are still trying to determine how horseplay between two young men turned deadly early Saturday.

Mike Weaver, 20, of Macon was shot to death at a metro Atlanta apartment at about 3 a.m., said Atlanta police Sgt. John Quigley. Jason William Futch, also 20, of Brunswick, has been charged with murder in Weaver’s death.

Police said Weaver and several friends drove to Atlanta on Friday to attend a concert and later went to Futch’s Lenox Road apartment. Quigley said Weaver and Futch were playfully wrestling when they got into an argument.

Quigley said others in the apartment separated the two men. Some of them placed Weaver in the bathroom, and others went into the bedroom with Futch, he said.

“They were trying to calm the guys down,” Quigley said. “Their tempers flared,” he said. “The suspect went into the bedroom, and (Weaver) went into the bathroom. Shots were fired, and the victim was shot once.”

Futch retrieved his 12-gauge shotgun from a bedroom and fired at least one shot toward the bathroom door, Quigley said. He said it was legal for Futch to have the shotgun inside the apartment. Quigley said the shot went through two doors and struck Weaver.

The shooting is still under investigation, he said. No one else in the apartment was injured. Quigley said some people at the party had been drinking alcohol, but he would not say if Weaver or Futch were among them.

Weaver died en route to the hospital, Quigley said. Monday, those who knew Weaver were still in shock. They described him as a gentle spirit, a hard worker and a wonderful friend who always wore a baseball cap and had a smile for everyone.

“He was one of the most genuine people I know,” said Natalie Spires, who worked with Weaver at the Loco’s Deli in Milledgeville. “He was a personal friend and a hard worker. … He was just a great guy.”

Quigley didn’t know if Weaver and Futch were friends, acquaintances or had met that night. Futch, the son of a veteran Glynn County sheriff’s deputy, was still in the Fulton County jail Monday.

Friends described Weaver as a person who would do anything to keep from angering others.

Bibb County State Court Judge Bill Adams knew Weaver since he was a child playing Little League and trained him to umpire games. Adams said Weaver was a laid-back young man who had a bright future. A student at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Weaver was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order.

“He was a gentle spirit of a guy, and he always seemed happy,” Adams said. “He could handle things. … He umpired lots of games, but I never saw anyone get angry at him. He just had that way about him.”

Vine-Ingle Little League is considering starting a scholarship in Weaver’s honor, to a young person who showed good sportsmanship and strong character, Adams said.

Central High School principal Pam Wacter said Weaver warmly welcomed her when she became principal. His mother, Erin, is an assistant principal there.

A 2001 graduate of Central High School, Weaver was a member of the Key Club and played baseball and football.

“There are a lot of levels of grief here,” Wacter said. “Those at the school who didn’t know Mike knew his sister and brother. And all of the students know and love his mother, who is such an advocate for (them). It’s just hard on everyone.” Mike Weaver’s father, Bill, is a Telegraph editor.

Although Mike Weaver was a full-time student, he worked two part-time jobs. He parked cars at Macon’s Downtown Grill and made sure orders at Loco’s Deli in Milledgeville went out correctly. Friday, Weaver went into Loco’s to pick up his work schedule, and Loco’s co-owner Asher Austin asked him to work that night.

Weaver said he had plans in Atlanta. “I told him to be careful and to have a good time,” Austin said. “That’s what really shook me up.”

Saturday, friends and family gathered at Bill and Erin Weaver’s Macon home to talk about Mike, Adams said. He said several moms asked their sons, many of them Mike Weaver’s close friends, not to go very far from their sight.

On that night, many agreed to stay close to their parents, Adams said. “I’m a firm believer that good comes out of bad,” Adams said. “Sometimes, it’s not always easy to see it, but you must have faith.”

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