A 14-year-old boy was killed by his own father Thursday, and people close to the victim say that the man shot the boy out of homophobia.
Giovanni Melton was a student at Coronado High School in a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada. Friends described him as selfless and charismatic.
“It’s just sad. He was young and he had a lot to live for,” senior Bailey Schultz said about Giovanni.
Giovanni and his older brother were living largely alone in a condo, according to neighbors, who knew the boys because they would often ask for food. Court records show that their mother abandoned them and an allegation of child abuse had already been made against their father Wendell, 53.
Wendell is an employee of United Airlines, and he has previously faced charges involving illegal firearms.
Sonja Jones, who described herself as Giovanni’s former foster mother, said that Wendell hated the fact that his son was gay. “Giovanni was abused physically and mentally and spiritually for many, many years,” she said.
“He hated the fact that his son was gay,” she said. “I’m sure that inside of his mind, he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.”
She said that the brothers told her that Wendell had once pulled a gun on Giovanni when he caught the teenager with another boy.
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Wendell called police to the home at around midnight, and they found Giovanni shot. He died later that day.
The father has been arrested and is being held on charges of murder, child abuse, and prohibited person possessing a firearm.
“I hope they throw the book at him. I hope he never sees the light of day,” said Jones. “I hope every day when he looks in the mirror, he sees his son’s face.”
She has started a GoFundMe page to help Giovanni’s brother pay for funeral expenses.