Fayette County

Teen charged in death of 15-year-old; ‘Heartbroken’ Lafayette copes with student’s shooting

Robert Durrum, 15, died early Thursday after being shot on Belmont Drive near Preakness Drive in Lexington. He was found about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday on Belmont Drive near Preakness Drive in the North Point subdivision.
Robert Durrum, 15, died early Thursday after being shot on Belmont Drive near Preakness Drive in Lexington. He was found about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday on Belmont Drive near Preakness Drive in the North Point subdivision. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Lexington police charged a 16-year-old boy Thursday with murder and robbery in connection with the shooting death of a 15-year-old Lafayette High School student.

Robert “Bobby” Durrum, 15, died just after midnight at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, according to the Fayette County coroner’s office. He was found about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday in the road on Belmont Drive near Preakness Drive in the North Point subdivision. He had suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Investigators were able to identify the suspect through information given to them by witnesses and Bobby, according to police. Bobby and the suspect were acquaintances. A fight broke out during a meeting between the two before the shooting occurred.

Lafayette High School students and staff were hit hard Thursday by Bobby’s death. He was a well-liked, “caring, sweet” freshman and the second 15-year-old from the high school in three months to be shot to death.

“We are just absolutely heartbroken over this news,” principal Bryne Jacobs said. We’ve been in correspondence with his family to see how our school can provide support.”

“Our school has also been subjected to violence ongoing this year in various facets of our community, so we have students still struggling and grieving with those losses,” Jacobs said. Trinity Gay, the daughter of Olympian Tyson Gay, was shot to death in October in the parking lot of Cook Out restaurant on South Broadway during an exchange of gunfire between two groups of men.

“One of the most difficult things to do as a classroom teacher is to walk into a classroom where there is one empty seat and address that class,” Jacobs said.

Some students were taken home by parents, and the absences were excused, the principal said. Counselors worked with classmates as needed.

Students were really struggling, counselor Julie Bennington said.

“You know we’ve had a lot of grief and just senseless violence,” Bennington said. “And the kids, it just is not only scary for them, but it’s heartbreaking. I know that they feel a sense of powerlessness, and it’s just tragic and shocking when something like this happens to someone so young. And to have it happen more than once, the kids are just having a really hard time, and so are some of the teachers.”

Bennington said Bobby had a great sense of humor and respect for others, and he was “truly well liked by his peers here and his teachers here.”

“He was very funny, always cracking jokes. He loved shoes, he loved basketball and he was just the kind of kid that if somebody was down, he’d say something to try to pick them up,” she said.

“He was respectful of everyone.” He liked everyone, it didn’t matter who you were. He was just a very caring, sweet kid, and he’s going to be greatly missed here at our school.”

Because of recent violence, some Lafayette students have formed a group called WAVES (We Against Violence Encourage Strength.)

“These students want to do something active in our community to educate younger kids about violence prevention, specifically targeting middle schools,” Bennington said.

The students prepared a 30-minute presentation for younger kids in the community. The first presentation is scheduled for Wednesday.

“We stand behind our students 100 percent,” said Jacobs, the principal. “Whatever ideas they have to create positive change in our community, I want to cultivate that and provide them support. It’s been so inspiring to see all the resources in our community come together and support students in those efforts, whether it be our local police department or the fire department or members of Mayor Gray’s office. Just so many people want to support our kids, and that’s been inspiring to me.”

Bobby’s death is the second fatal shooting in Lexington in 2017.

Of the 24 murder victims in 2016, seven were 18 or younger.

Chrystal Forney works for Critter Sitters of Lexington and walks dogs several times a week past the intersection near where Bobby was found. Forney, who is in the neighborhood regularly, acknowledged being a little nervous Thursday while she was out.

“It’s always really quiet over here,” she said. “Everyone here is just quiet and friendly. So this is startling.”

She said violence seems to be getting out of hand in Lexington.

“It seems like every time you turn around, there’s news of a kid getting killed.”

Bobby’s cousin, Samantha Rhorer, said he was “good-hearted and cared for people more than anyone else I know.”

She said Bobby had asked his mother several times Wednesday night if he could go out to be with a friend who was having a hard time, telling her he’d be gone just 10 minutes.

“Ten minutes passed, and then an hour passed,” and Bobby didn’t return, she said.

At that point, his mother and grandmother went looking for him, only to learn he had been shot after being picked up by his friend.

Rhorer and her mother, Stephanie Williams, who is Bobby’s aunt, said they think Bobby was shot while trying to stand up for his friend, who was being threatened by someone else.

Friends planned to hold a vigil at 6 p.m. Friday at Triangle Park, they said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up at Gofundme.com/bobby-durrum.

Anyone with information related to this case is asked to call police at 859-258-3600.

Anonymous tips, including photos and videos, can be submitted by texting LEXPD plus the tip to 274637. Information can also be sent anonymously through Bluegrass Crime Stoppers at 859-253-2020 or Bluegrasscrimestoppers.com.