Though things are slowly getting back to normal at Newton High School, the death of 17-year-old Terrence J. Dorsey, known as T.J., is still weighing heavily on the students, both those who knew him and those who did not.
Dorsey was killed early Sunday morning as he and several other teenagers were traveling east on Interstate 20 near the DeKalb/Rockdale County line around 1:45 a.m. A pistol being handled by a 16-year-old male in the back of the vehicle he was riding in accidentally went off, striking Dorsey in the back. Dorsey was taken by his friends to Rockdale Medical Center where he later died as a result of his injuries.
The teen who had been handling the 9 mm reportedly told detectives that he thought the safety was on. He is currently being held at the Gwinnett County Juvenile Detention Center charged with involuntary manslaughter.
At Newton High School, students decorated Dorsey's locker and the hallway where his locker was located with pictures, hearts, and final farewells. Sentiments included "heaven calls you home," "heaven gained the perfect angel" and "you were just with me the other day." T-shirts have also been created in Dorsey's honor.
Many have taken to Myspace to voice their thoughts on the popular student, commenting on how he was always seen smiling while walking the hallways and how much he meant to so many of them.
Principal Dr. Roderick Sams spoke out on Tuesday, saying that Dorsey had touched many at NHS.
"Today is much better than yesterday. Yesterday was very difficult because the young man was a very popular young man. A lot of our students were really dealing with it. It was very difficult, but today is much better. And each day should get even better for those who continue to carry him in their hearts," said Sams.
"He represented many of the qualities we want in our students at Newton High," he said, of Dorsey. "His personality resonated positively with everyone he has come to know. T.J. was respectful to not just the adults here but to his peers as well. Newton High is a better school because of students like him."
Sherri Viniard, public relations director for the Newton County School System said that students at NHS were made aware of Dorsey’s death Monday morning and that the school observed a moment of silence in his memory.
"We [the NCSS] offer our deepest condolences to the family during this very difficult time," Viniard said.
Tisa Smart Washington contributed to this article.