Friends say man shot, killed by police was 'caring,' 'selfless'

Marcus-David Peters (left) and his friend (Source: Anthony Jones)
Marcus-David Peters (left) and his friend (Source: Anthony Jones)
Marcus-David Peters 'was one of the most caring and selfless people you'd ever met," a friend said. (Source: Anthony Jones)
Marcus-David Peters 'was one of the most caring and selfless people you'd ever met," a friend said. (Source: Anthony Jones)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Friends are remembering Marcus-David Peters, a 24-year-old biology teacher who was shot and killed by police on Monday.

"Marcus was one the most caring and selfless people you'd ever meet," said Anthony Jones. "He was a highly intelligent leader and respected among his peers. He had a sense of humor and demeanor that could win over anyone."

Peters taught Biology I and II at Essex High School and worked weekends at The Jefferson in Richmond.

"It was really sad, everyone was crying. It was... rough," said Sydney Ross, a student in Peters' biology class. "That's not the Mr. Peters we know."

Pastor Jonathan Beale served as a grief counselor at the school on Wednesday.

"From a number of students, in very kind of emotional and tearful conversations, things like 'Mr. Peters was the first teacher I ever had that helped me learn or get excited about science,'" said Beale.

Students say they left pictures, flowers, and notes on the door to Peters' biology classroom.  Students were scheduled to take his SOL on Thursday but it's been moved to Monday to give them time to grieve.

Another student of Peters', Kahleighya Coleman, said she'll always remember the last words he told his class on Monday: "Keep your head up, never look down. I will never leave y'all, I'll be with y'all until y'all finishing graduating the 12th grade."

Javonti Braxton, one of Peters' best friends, says he and Peters formed an inseparable bond after meeting at Virginia Commonwealth University.  They were resident assistants in the same building.

According to Braxton, Peters was the "lead resident assistant" in their building and was pre-med but fell in love with education.

"To say he was an amazing person is an understatement," Braxton said. "I could never overstate how beautiful of a person he truly was. We are definitely worse off because of his passing."

Henry Lewis, Peters' advisor at VCU for two years, said "He was one of my best students. When I first met him he walked into my office with such passion and dedication to pursue medicine. He was willing to do whatever he had to do to achieve that goal. He was an RA on campus. He was highly engaged in that too. He was always smiling and was just a very driven, dedicated student."

"Marcus David Peters was a biology teacher at Essex High School that was adored by his students," a parent wrote to NBC12. "This is a very difficult time for his students and staff. We don't know what went wrong on Monday but that was not the person they knew."

Another parent, Shannon Davis, said her daughter said that Peters "was different than other teachers. He truly cared about his students. She said he was always telling them that they could do anything in life and that he would never leave them. She said he told them how proud he was of them and was always encouraging and he believed in them. ... He was very kind, compassionate, caring, approachable and genuine. Our community has lost a great educator and mentor. My daughters life was touch by Mr. Peters and she will never forget him."

Essex County Public Schools released a statement Wednesday that said, "We are profoundly saddened by this loss and extend our deepest condolences to his family, colleagues, and friends. To help our students and employees during this difficult time, we are providing grief counselors and other supports to them."

Peters was shot and fatally injured by police around 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 14. Peters was unarmed.

Richmond Police spokesman Gene Lepley said shortly after 5:30 p.m. an officer saw Peters strike another car with his sedan at the intersection of West Franklin and North Belvidere Streets. Peters fled the scene leading the officer on a pursuit.

When Peters arrived at the I-95 northbound on-ramp near Chamberlayne Avenue, police said Peters lost control of his car and hit two other cars on the on-ramp.

"Peters emerged from his disabled vehicle and ran into the northbound lanes of I-95," Lepley said. "He was not wearing any clothes … [we're trying to figure out] why he didn't have any clothes on."

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