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Jackson Co. teachers remember U.S. Marshal killed in line of duty

Published: Mar. 11, 2015 at 10:54 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 12, 2015 at 9:54 AM CDT
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East Central High School in Moss Point (Photo source: WLOX)
East Central High School in Moss Point (Photo source: WLOX)

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - ?

A small Jackson County community is reeling over the death of Josie Wells. Wells graduated from East Central High School in Hurley in 2006. On Wednesday, teachers talked fondly about their former student who left quite a legacy at the school. They remembered Wells as a dream student.

"To see somebody to succeed like he has, unwavered, it breaks my heart. It hasn't been an easy day," said Coach Robert Magee.

The tragic loss of Wells has left a painful void in the hearts of those who knew him.

"I said that can't happen. This kid's too good. I was devastated," said Magee.

Magee coached the young man when he played on the school's football team at East Central High. Wells wore number 61 and played defensive tackle.

"You could work him and he would always have a smile on his face, and he was always energetic. He never complained. He was probably one of my favorites," said Magee.

Wells was also a standout on stage. He took theatre classes in his senior year and was in the drama club.

"He was what we call in theatre 'a natural.' When he was on the stage, he owned it. He was very articulate, very comedic, just a joy to teach," said theatre teacher Kristal Sisson. "He had a smile that was so dynamic, so magnificent. It was just infectious."

Teachers say Wells' passion has always been law enforcement.

"We were talking about federal marshals, and he said, 'That's what I want to be.' When he called me and said, 'I'm going to be a federal marshal,' I said, 'Wow, all right!' I told him over and over again I'm very proud of him," said Magee.

Wells often returned to his alma mater to visit with his teachers and speak to students about college, setting goals and of course, his job as a U.S. Marshal.

"Josie was kind of a celebrity around here, because he was to my knowledge, in my 23 years here, we've never had a student that was a U.S. Marshal. So that's a big deal," said Sisson. "There's a long history of law enforcement in the Wells family."

While Wells' death during a shootout in Baton Rouge Tuesday has left his school family heartbroken, they know he fulfilled his dream and has made them proud.

"Josie was a special person, and he was a role model for so many of our students here at our school. His entire family is so well respected in our community, so it's just a great loss," said Sisson.

"As tragic as it is to say that, and it is a loss, but he was doing something that he truly loved. If anybody can say they died doing what they loved, well Josie was doing that," said Magee.

Magee said he last talked with Wells via Facebook two weeks ago. He said Wells and his wife were hoping to move back to Jackson County to be closer to his family.

Wells came from a family of eight children. Teachers say the youngest child, Julian Wells, finished his senior year at East Central this past December.

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