MERRILLVILLE | The Merrillville School Board presented a plaque Tuesday to a family whose son was killed in March in a drive-by shooting at their home.
Depree Mims, 14, an eighth-grader at Pierce Middle School, was struck by a bullet as he was getting a blanket for his younger siblings March 27. He died two days later.
Merrillville Community School Corp. Superintendent Mark Sperling said the district lost a great student when Mims died. School officials plan to honor the family by putting up two plaques in honor of Mims.
Reading from the plaque presented to the boy's family, retired Pierce Principal Paul McKinney said Mims was always kind, respectful and enjoyed making people laugh.
"He will always be remembered for having the biggest smile in school. He was an active member of Greater Destiny Bible Church. He loved football, basketball, and he loved to dance," McKinney read. "Depree will be missed by his family, friends, classmates and staff, but never forgotten."
Depree's father, Depree Dalton, and mother, Naomi Mims, walked to the front of the room, hand in hand, and accepted the plaque on their family's behalf. The boy's seven brothers and sisters sat quietly in the room and listened.
New Pierce Middle School Principal Christine Wheeler displayed another plaque, which will hang alongside the first plaque.
Wiping tears from her eyes, Naomi Mims thanked the principals, teachers and school officials at the meeting and said her family appreciates everything the district has done for them.
Dalton said it's been hard for the family getting used to Depree Mims not being around.
"The younger children understand what's happened," Dalton said. "They haven't seen him for a while. There isn't a day we don't think about him and miss him. It means a lot. He was a good kid. He was loved by everyone."
Investigators believe the shooting was a gang initiation, Merrillville police said.
Kevin Brown, 18, and Matthew Knight, 16, both of Merrillville, and brothers Anthony Addison, 22, and Joshua Addison, 21, of Gary, were charged in March with murder and criminal gang activity in connection with the shooting.
Charges against Joshua Addison were later dismissed. Hearings have been set for the other three defendants.