Fatal mistake: Harding graduate known for his ‘beautiful’ singing voice killed

Botham Shem Jean was the victim of a police officer who entered his apartment, mistaking it for her own, according to authorities.

By Bobby Ross Jr. and Erik Tryggestad| The Christian Chronicle

By all accounts, Botham Shem Jean was a man of deep faith with a “beautiful” and “powerful” singing voice.

Relatives, friends and fellow Christians from the U.S. to his native St. Lucia expressed shock Friday upon learning of the 2015 Harding University graduate’s tragic death.

Jean, 26, was fatally shot in Texas on Thursday night when an off-duty Dallas police officer entered his apartment, mistaking it for her own, authorities said.

“He led singing often in HU Chapel and at the College Church of Christ in Searcy,” Glenn Dillard, Harding’s assistant vice president for enrollment management, said of the 26-year-old victim. “He had a beautiful voice.”

Jean grew up in a Church of Christ on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

“Botham was a soldier of Christ,” his aunt, Desma Charles, told The Christian Chronicle, “committed to singing, song leading and teaching.” He was a “very vibrant young man who was well-loved by many and had the souls of men at heart.”

Charles, who worships with the Gros Islet Church of Christ in St. Lucia, said she talked with her nephew two weeks ago about “holding onto the Lord in challenging times.”

“I can say more, but my heart is too heavy,” she added. “All the congregations on the island are in grief — Gros Islet, L’Anse Road and Vieux Fort Church of Christ.”

Jean attended the Dallas West Church of Christ, which plans a prayer vigil in his memory at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said at a Friday afternoon news conference that police will seek a manslaughter charge against the officer. Hall declined to identify the officer pending the formal filing of the charge. Dallas police have asked the Texas Rangers to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting.

“Right now, there are more questions than we have answers,” Hall told reporters. The chief said the officer’s shift had ended, but she was still in uniform when she encountered Jean inside the apartment about 10 p.m. Thursday. The officer’s blood was drawn to test for drugs and alcohol, the chief said. Specific details about the shooting were scarce.

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This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.