A Mississippi man is accused of gunning his son down in an apparent domestic dispute earlier this month, according to police.
Joel Chad Graves, 45, was arrested Wednesday and charged with fatally shooting his 20-year-old son, Joel Scott Graves, nearly two weeks after the younger Graves was found mortally wounded following a shooting at a home in Hattiesburg, Miss., police said in a statement.
The arrest came as friends and family of the younger Graves remembered him as a “sweet boy” who loved animals, being outdoors, and learning about history, according to a report in the Hattiesburg American.
"He's always been an outdoorsy, active kid," his mother Jessica Jaramillo, told the American. "He would entertain himself for hours."
The portrait emerging about the elder Graves, however, is more disturbing, as allegations of past domestic violence surface, according to the American.
The shooting occurred on Aug. 16, when police responded to an apartment complex to find Joel Scott Graves mortally wounded from a gunshot inside an apartment, police said. The young man was declared dead at the scene.
Officials said at the time that the violence appeared to have stemmed from a domestic dispute, but gave few details until the arrest of the elder Graves Wednesday evening.
In an interview with the Hattiesburg American, Joel Scott Graves’ mother told the newspaper that she had left her husband on Aug. 17, 2001 after he pinned her against a bed and shoved a gun in her mouth.
Jaramillo shared multiple police reports with the American verifying her ex-husband’s history of abuse, the newspaper reported. Despite her husband’s alleged violent streak, the pair shared custody of the younger Graves, who kept wanting to go back to his father against the wishes of his mother, Jaramillo told the American.
The younger Graves had been living in Suffolk, Virginia, where he was working on a horse farm, but he frequently went back to Hattiesburg to see his father, Jaramillo told the American.
Jaramillo, who according to The American is in the military and stationed in another state, said she relented because her son told her he would mostly be staying with his grandmother, according to the newspaper.
"He said, 'I want you to be okay with it,' but I was never okay with it," she told the American.
Now, she just hopes her son’s death won’t be in vain, and that it might spread awareness about the dangers of domestic violence, according to the American.
"There are resources out there that are available," she said. "They don't have to stay with someone they love just because they are family. If his story can save one family, one woman, one kid, that is all I can ever ask for in this world."
It was not immediately clear if the elder Graves had hired a defense attorney. He is currently being held without bail at Forrest County Jail in Hattiesburg pending his first court appearance, according to online jail records.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, Hattiesburg police said.
[Photo: Hattiesburg Police Department]
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