As 16 green balloons rose into the stormy, dark gray Arlington sky Friday night, Roshone Jacob stood silent with tears in her eyes.

On that day, Jacob should have been celebrating her son Ja’Shawn Poirier’s 17th birthday. Instead, she was standing with family and community members outside Lamar High School, where about 70 people joined together to mourn and remember Ja’Shawn’s life.

“As I let these balloons go, I just wanted to let my son know that I love him so much, and I miss him,” Jacob said.

Ja’shawn was killed in a shooting outside the school on the morning of March 20. Police say he was sitting on the front steps around 6:55 a.m. when a car drove by and someone opened fire. Another student suffered minor injuries.

Last month’s shooting rocked the school community. And so even though Ja’Shawn was taken back to the family’s hometown of Pontiac, Michigan for a funeral, Friday night’s vigil was one small way Jacob said she could help Lamar students collectively grieve.

“I did it for the kids,” Jacob said. “They were asking for a funeral, and we buried him back home, so I did this for the kids because a lot of kids wanted this.”

Ja’Shawn was remembered as a kindhearted teen who loved sports, family and friends. His mother called him “goofy,” and “a loved, kind, sweet boy.” The release of the 16 green balloons was symbolic: Ja’Shawn was 16 years old when he was killed, and green was his favorite color.

A framed school photo of Ja’shawn Poirier was gifted to Rashone Jacob, Poirier’s mother, during his vigil at Lamar High School on April 21, 2023. (Matthew Sgroi | Fort Worth Report)

Though Jacob said she didn’t hold the vigil for herself or her family, it clearly had an impact on the still-grieving mother. She stood solemn when presented with the last painting Ja’Shawn painted in art class. She sang quietly when Lamar High School Director of Choirs Greg Haugen stood at the podium to lead attendees in a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

The moment was poetic toLamar High School Principal Andy Hagman.

“I was looking up at the sky, and the dark clouds, and it made me think about life, and how we experience dark clouds, turbulence, and difficulties,” he said, “but we also experience beautiful sunshine and cool breeze.”

The accused gunman, a 15-year-old fellow student, was arrested hours after the shooting and charged with capital murder and aggravated assault. Three days later, the boy’s father was also arrested and faces federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to court records first reported by The Dallas Morning News. Police say they found three illegally obtained guns in his home.

The teen has been in juvenile detention since his arrest. Last week, Judge Alex Kim ruled the boy will remain in custody after a series of minor infractions.

“Being this is so serious, I have to be heightened,” Kim said at the hearing. “Even the small rules are much bigger.”

Green balloons floating in the sky.
Sixteen green balloons are released into the Arlington sky during a vigil for Ja’Shawn Poirier, who was killed outside Lamar High School in March. (Matthew Sgroi | Fort Worth Report)

Ja’Shawn’s mother said besides the arrests, she hoped for legislative changes focused on gun control and school safety.

“The government needs to do better on gun violence, stop all this gun violence, and protect our kids better,” Jacob said. “The school needs to protect our kids better by putting up more cameras and more security.”

Lamar High School sophomore Taniya Banks echoed that statement.

Banks, who was in the same world history class as Poirier, said students should feel safe coming to school. She wants more protection for her and her fellow students.

She spoke fondly as she recalled all the qualities she loved about Ja’shawn.

“He was such an amazing kid, oh my goodness,” Banks said. “His grades were good… just him in general, he was just amazing.”

“Ja’shawn, I love you,” Banks added.

Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or on Twitter.

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Matthew Sgroi

Matthew Sgroi

Matthew Sgroi is the 2022-23 Fort Worth Report multimedia fellow. He can be reached at or (503)-828-4063. Sgroi is a current senior at Texas Christian University, majoring...

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Juan Salinas II

Born and raised in the North Side of Fort Worth. Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow. He is a Tarrant County College transfer student who is currently studying journalism at the University of Texas at...