Billy Ray Shirley III used to tell his mother that there was nowhere for kids on Tacoma’s East Side to go.
As Shalisa Hayes nears the one-year anniversary of her 17-year-old son’s fatal shooting, she and others are working to change that in his honor.
Billy was shot and killed Aug. 27 while leaving a motorcycle club party at a Nalley Valley warehouse, where he had gone with friends to check on someone else.
There have been no leads in the investigation, Hayes said.
To mark the anniversary, Hayes and her group of volunteers will host a field day for kids Saturday at Lister Elementary School, blocks from where Billy lived.
Team Billy Ray, a group of about 20 teenagers led by Hayes, is dedicated to making Billy’s vision of a community center for East Tacoma a reality.
They began work just days after Billy’s death and have raised about $5,000.
“Team Billy Ray was where I needed to be,” 18-year-old Chasity Davis said. Billy was a close friend.
“I think it will be good for our community to have a center like that, because it could stop crime.
she said. “It could stop what happened to him from happening again.”
They recognize the multimillion-dollar center is a long-term goal. They also do volunteer projects each month, such as the field day.
They focus on positive ways for kids to get involved in their communities.
“We don’t have time for the negative stuff.” Hayes said. “That’s our mission, to get them involved in activities that kind of open their eyes to being able to care for their neighborhood.”
The local Full Tilt Riders Motorcycle Club will help Saturday and is holding its own fundraiser to support the team.
It’s the first time since the shooting that a motorcycle club has joined Hayes’ cause.
“Billy Ray lost his life at a (different) motorcycle club’s function, and this is the first motorcycle club that has stepped up to reach out and say, ‘We want to help,’” Hayes said.
Billy was the average teenager in many ways, Hayes said. His grades were bad, she said with a laugh.
“There were days when I was chasing him down the street telling him to get his buns in the house,” Hayes said.
But he also was a teen who once helped an elderly woman who became ill at the mall and gave shoes and clothing to a peer he saw was in need. When a classmate was being bullied, he told his teacher “I’ve got this” – his signature phrase when being protective, Hayes said.
That’s the spirit that Team Billy Ray honors with their volunteering.
“The reality is, you cherish people for the good that they did, and that’s what we’re doing,” Hayes said.
Billy Ray Day Monday, as proclaimed by Mayor Marilyn Strickland this week, recognizes the work of Hayes’s team. Members have done park cleanups, distributed turkeys to families in need on Thanksgiving and kept focusing on the long-term goal.
Events such as Saturday’s bring the team closer to realizing Billy’s dream, said member Briana Williams, 17.
“I just feel like if we keep going on, if we get the young kids involved and more older people involved, it will show the city that we’re serious about this,” she said.
Hayes plans to clean up Oakland Park on Center Street with Team Billy Ray on every anniversary of her son’s death.
One of the first service projects Billy did in Tacoma was a park cleanup, and Center Street is where he was killed.
Billy’s team says they’ll be helping for years to come.
“He lit the torch, and now they’re running with it,” Hayes said.