‘We lost a kid that was one of a kind,’ teacher says after Morristown grad shot and killed


MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE)– A Morristown teacher wants the community to know how special and loved HJ Roberts was after he was shot and killed Monday night.

Morristown police responded to a shooting at an apartment complex around 7:40 p.m. Monday. Several people were inside the apartment when a fight broke out and gunshots were fired. Roberts, 19, was shot and killed. Louis Gaona, 22, was sustained an injury from a gunshot wound.

Shane Webb had known Roberts for several years. First as his youth leader, then as his teacher and coach. Webb said Roberts was one of a kind.

“He was 100% authentic in everything he was. Who he was, you never had to guess. It’s who he was,” Webb said.

According to him, Roberts didn’t have a filter. He would say anything that came to his mind and never held back. That characteristic made him the kind of student a teacher loved to have in their class.

“His personality brought out the best of you as a teacher because he always wanted to engage. He always wanted to talk, he always wanted to ask questions.”

Webb said that personality could also get him into trouble in class. However, the teacher says Roberts was a hard-working student, but like many teenagers, learning from home was a little more difficult for Roberts to pay attention.

“This year, when you had to call him out for things in such a weird year like the COVID year, he was getting in trouble for being home was instead of paying attention to Geometry, he was field dressing an animal he hunted during class on camera.”

But, Roberts was very honest and would tell you exactly what he was doing, even if it would get him in trouble.

“During football, getting in trouble for missing numerous days of practice cause he told us he was staying out in the woods bear hunting.”

Webb said Roberts loved hunting and fishing. According to him, it was part of his good ole boy personality. Roberts could talk to anyone about hunting and fishing, and Webb said he even made it a part of his future plans.

“He had plans, he was going to work and he was going to work during the week and hunt and fish on the weekends,” Webb said.

Webb said Roberts worked extremely hard to graduate this year. Being his homeroom teacher, Webb was fortunate enough to hand Roberts’ his diploma for graduating from Morristown Hamblen High West. He did that just days before Roberts was shot and killed.

“I was able to kind of put my arm around him, we took a picture together, just kind of as that last memory of him leaving high school. Talked about him moving into his job this week, told him not to be a stranger. And he told me he wouldn’t, and it’s crazy because it was just three days ago.”

Webb said Roberts made an impact on many people: his teacher, peers, strangers and family. He said Roberts would befriend anyone. He was the type of person that if he knew someone didn’t have a friend or needed on, he would be that friend.

Webb wants people to know Roberts was very loved by his family. They helped push him to graduate and to attend youth group when he was younger. He believes the worst part about Roberts losing his life so soon is that he won’t be able to impact others like he did when he was alive.

Webb said anyone who knew Roberts would be heaFrtbroken right now.

“Peers, teachers, coaches, family are devastated and we should be. Um, we lost a kid that was one of a kind,” Webb said.

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