High School Football Star Shot, Killed in Camden

Jesse Kato wore his son's varsity letter jacket as he asked the public to help find the person responsible for his death. 

"As a son he's a good person," Kato said. "Anybody, any help. If you know who did this to my son bring him to justice."

Kato's son, 18-year-old Ja'Meer Bullard, was a local high school football star who was shot and killed over the weekend in Camden, only two blocks away from his home. 

Bullard's family said he was walking to a nearby store to get a snack with his younger cousin on Green and Mechanic streets shortly after midnight Saturday when a gunman suddenly opened fire. 

"I just opened the door for him," said Bullard's grandmother. "I opened the door for my grandson and I heard the gunshots."

Bullard was struck by the gunfire but managed to get his cousin to safety. He was taken to Cooper University Hospital where he died from his injuries at 1:11 a.m.

"He shouldn't have to die like that," his grandmother said. "He didn't do nothing to nobody. He always was a good kid. He was going places. They just took him out." 

Bullard was a star running back and linebacker for Woodrow Wilson High School's football team. He also received a recruitment offer from Temple University and was set to showcase his talent at a Nike invitational this week. Bullard recently transferred to Camden High School after his family moved within city limits.

"From the moment he touched the football, everyone knew he was going to be a special player some day," said Bullard's coach Preston Brown. 

Brown described Bullard as a leader both on and off the field.

"He was the oldest of his siblings and they really looked up to him," Brown said. "He was the protector of those guys."

Brown told NBC10 Bullard was excited to play college football and wanted to use his skills to get off the streets of Camden and start a new life. 

"Right now my heart is real heavy having lost Ja'Meer to senseless gun violence in the city of Camden," Brown said. 

Bullard's death is especially tragic for Brown since his own brother was shot and killed on the same street.

"You'll never get used to it," Brown said. "It's just a sad reality that we have to deal with in the city of Camden." 

No arrests have been made. Police searched the rooftops of abandoned homes on Mechanic and Green streets to search for evidence or a weapon. They also spoke to students at Woodrow Wilson High School. Crisis counselors are also available for students at the school.

If you have any information on the shooting, please call Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Anthony Roccia at (856) 365-3122 or Camden County Police Detective Mark Lee at (856) 757-7420.

Contact Us