By Onisha Barham, Thao Tran, and Rosey Uribe
Additional reporting by Apikale Moa and Annie Saechao
Today, Oakland High School observed a moment of silence for Phillip Wright, Jr., a junior known for his enthusiastic personality, his reputation as a jokester, and his fascination with Rubik’s cube.
On November 19, Phillip was shot and killed in his East Oakland home, in what the Oakland Police Department called a case of mistaken identity. OPD Officer Jeff Thomason stated that the police are engaged in an “ongoing investigation, following up on witnesses and suspects.”
According to Principal Alicia Romero, the school waited to hold a moment of silence in remembrance of Phillip until December 18, in accordance with Phillip’s family’s wishes.
Many Oakland High students and staff attended Phillip’s funeral on December 3 at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Oakland. Pastor Norman E. Bradley delivered the eulogy at a service that included prayers, poems, and musical selections, and that noted Phillip’s dedication to his Christian faith.
Friend Steven Mitchell said the funeral represented Phillip’s identity.
Friends remembered Phillip as a good student with a bright smile who always offered his sincere greetings to those around him. Some recalled how deeply Phillip’s mother’s death in his freshmen year affected him.
Teacher Julie McCalmont remembered that after Phillip’s mother died, he was very depressed. He stole his brother’s car to take a ride but ended up in a car wreck. Phillip was scared to get in trouble, so he decided to stumble home from the accident with an injured knee.
Even though Phillip didn’t always do his work, friends remembered that he always would get back on track. Classmate Melba Moore remembered Phillip falling behind in one course, but working hard to end the semester with a B.
Members of the Oakland High community expressed sorrow at Phillip’s absence.
McCalmont said that if she could speak to Phillip again, she would say,” I miss you. I love you. I’m so sorry you had to suffer pain. I hope you feel no pain now.”