• Local school honors man shot and killed at Northlake Mall

    By: Brittney Johnson

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A local high school is honoring a man who was shot and killed by police inside Northlake Mall on Christmas Eve.
     
    Crossroads Charter High School on North Tryon Street dedicated its digital sign in memory of Daquan Westbrook.
     
    Police said Westbrook pointed a gun at officers before he was shot and killed on Christmas Eve.

    Related: Man killed in officer-involved shooting at Northlake Mall identified
     
    Crossroads Dean Adrian Sundiata said he received a mass request from students to post the message.
     
    "(He had) personality for days. (His) smile couldn't be matched, (or his) energy. I know it sounds strange, but (he) never had a bad school day," Sundiata said in a phone interview. 
     
    He said students remember Westbrook as an honor-roll student with a good personality.
     
    But, since midday Christmas Eve, many in the general public know him as the man whom police said took a gun inside Northlake Mall and pointed it at an officer.
     
    Westbrook was shot and killed by police, officials said.

    Related: 2 groups accused of involvement in Northlake Mall shooting
     
    "It's wrong, it's dead wrong,” Dwayne Higgs said.
     
    Standing outside the mall on Tuesday, Higgs and others who remember the chaotic scene said the sign sends the wrong message.
     
    "It's not about if he's a good student or not. He made a very strong scene," Elena Skrynnikova said.
     
     "That's not what you want your kids to be seeing," Higgs said.
     
    Sundiata said the sign is a tribute to a lost student and friend.
     
    "I don't know a lot of his life outside of school. I can't speak to that, so we just dealt with him as a school and dealt with him as a student we knew," he said.
     
    Westbrook's parents also defended the side they knew, calling him a good kid.
     
    In an exclusive interview with Channel 9, his mother said he was carrying a gun to protect himself after his brother was shot on Thanksgiving weekend.

    Related: Parents of armed teen killed at Northlake Mall speak out
     
    The dean said he's sensitive to the community's concerns about the violent mall scene and his students' feelings.
          
    "At Crossroads, we are family. With all of our children, we try to be supportive of them in life, and unfortunately in death," he said.
     
    This is not the first time that the school has used the sign to honor a lost student.
     
    Sundiata told Channel 9 that the school changed it to honor a classmate who committed suicide last year.
     
    The school is offering counseling services for students affected by Westbrook's death.
     
    The dean does not know how long the sign will be dedicated to Westbrook.

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