JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - We continue to learn more about 22- year-old Zebulum James and the people who know him the best.
Former Canton Assistant Police Chief Juan Cloy said he was a mentor to James for years. We talked to him about James and the possibility of his alleged actions being a hate crime.
Juan Cloy said, "Because we know the young man we knew something was not right. This is not the Zebulum we've been knowing all these years."
As breaking news alerts started surfacing, former Canton Assistant Police Chief Juan Cloy said he was in disbelief when James was identified as the suspect in the recent metro area deadly crime spree.
Cloy said, "I saw there were these violent acts occurring across the city and I wondered who was doing this and why. When I learned who it was our whole family was in shock."
Cloy said he has known James since he was in middle school. He said this is not the teen he has mentored throughout the years.
Cloy said, "He was a very smart young man. He actually tutored my daughter in math and I was somewhat of a mentor to him. He loved fitness."
The question has been posed, because James is a black man and police believe he shot and killed two white women, is this considered to be a hate crime? As a former law enforcer Cloy said everything is a possibility, but because James is accused of shooting in a home and at a Trajan bus in a predominately black neighborhood where other race and genders were present, it is highly unlikely a hate crime charge will come into play.
Cloy said, "The crime issues that are occurring in this city with our youth are major and we have to try and get to them before they start a life of crime."