Dylan Noble came from a devoutly Christian family and has a fiercely loyal friend base.
He really liked tacos – almost as much as his Ford F-150 pickup.
Like many teenagers, he had had a brush with the law that landed him in court.
He had loving relationships with his mom, dad and siblings.
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But his young life was cut short when he was fatally shot by two Fresno police officers June 25. Police say that Noble, 19, appeared to have a weapon and announced “I hate my (profanity) life.”
A bystander’s video shows that Noble was already on the ground when he was shot again. Fresno police have not yet released the video from body cameras worn by the two officers who shot Noble.
If we get hurt, we get hurt together.
Brandon Lindlahr, 18, friend of Dylan Noble
The people of Fresno and Clovis responded to his killing with a vigil, a cruise, a car wash and a private memorial service as well as a GoFundMe account, a Change.org petition urging Fresno police to release the police videos and the “Remembering Dylan Noble” Facebook page.
Out at Jerry Brown’s Bull Riding, a small arena in far northeast Fresno, everyone knew Noble, a country boy from Clovis who lived to ride BMX dirt bikes and loved America.
“The cowboys of Toro Bravo are gonna miss him around here,” said Tex Jennings, an old wiry cowboy with a flashy belt buckle and a feather in his hat. “We send our condolences to the family.”
That’s the kind of place Jerry Brown’s is. At the secluded spot, where bull riders wear chaps and cowboy hats and fans drink beer and eat fresh tacos, everyone is family.
“If we get hurt, we get hurt together,” said Brandon Lindlahr, 18.
Lindlahr remembers Noble for his sociability, one of those guys people looked forward to seeing at Jerry Brown’s. He also remembers him for the iconic truck that he constantly worked on. It seemed like every week it looked or sounded different. It was blue when he bought it, but then Noble tinkered with it, painting it black, adding a lift kit and taking off the mufflers. Everyone knew which truck was Noble’s.
Noble was driving the truck and its squealing wheels had drawn the attention of Fresno cops looking for a man who reportedly was seen carrying a rifle in the area.
He would make friends with a brick wall.
Corahl Mashburn, 19, friend
After Noble’s death, Lindlahr has struggled with how social media allows people who didn’t know Noble and don’t have the full story to comment on how he died.
“You go on Facebook and you’re instantly depressed,” he said. “You see live videos and people commenting, and it hurts, makes you mad. Dylan wouldn’t want that. It’s disrespecting him and his family.”
Doing things the way Noble would have wanted them has been the central wish of his family in their responses to the tragedy, from keeping the “Cruise for Dylan” peaceful and legal – no doughnuts, burnouts or beer – to being on their best behavior at the memorial and not starting protests. Associating Noble’s death with protests of police shootings, such as #BlackLivesMatter, has politicized a death that his family wanted to remain personal.
“He wasn’t like that,” said Corahl Mashburn, 19, a classmate from Clovis High School. Protesters carrying the Confederate flag and carrying signs reading “White Lives Matter” politicized the vigil, which added to his family’s grief, she said.
“There’s people making it about race, and the one thing I knew about Dylan is that he wasn’t racist at all,” said Megan Sullivan, 19, a classmate at Sierra Charter School. “This whole race thing has gotten out of hand, the whole protesting thing has gotten out of hand. They’re using it for their own pleasure to make a riot. We’re all angry, we all know this is wrong, that Dylan needs justice, but everyone has to understand that his family is hurting and the last thing they want is anyone else to get hurt because they’re doing things the cops will see as a threat.”
Mashburn couldn’t reconcile the Noble she knew with the suicide by cop story: She said she was 99.9 percent sure he didn’t say “I hate my (profanity) life” and mean he wanted to die, because he loved life. And if he did say it, he probably meant it figuratively because it’s common for millennials to use the acronym “FML” on social media.
The people who attended the private memorial service Wednesday, like Alexandra Jensen, 19, tried to forget the stories and remember Noble’s life. Jensen said it was an upbeat service with his favorite music, where people were trying not to dwell on sadness or anger.
Jensen, another former classmate at Clovis High, remembers sitting next to Noble in English class for 11th and 12th grades.
She opened up about her rocky family situation during high school and how Noble helped her through. On some days after Jensen got to school, he would know instantly if her parents’ divorce was affecting her that day. He’d tell a joke or pester her until she smiled and laughed.
He was always the peacemaker. He wanted everyone just to be happy.
Veronica Nelson, Dylan Noble’s mother
Jensen said that’s why Noble liked school: He had the chance to make his friends smile.
During high school, Noble made decisions typical for teenagers, some that got him into trouble.
“He got caught up in being a teenager, but that was when we were younger,” Sullivan said. “But after that we got our stuff together. We straightened up, fast. Sierra Charter helps you get back on track.”
And he did. After attending the charter school for alternative education in east-central Fresno, Noble went back to Clovis High, where students respected him for stopping bullies in their tracks and befriending the bullied.
That was something he wanted to do for a living, his mother Veronica Nelson told The Fresno Bee. “If he saw somebody being bullied, he would be like, ‘Hey bro, what’s your problem?’ ” Nelson said. “He was always the peacemaker. He wanted everyone just to be happy.”
Right out of high school in October 2014, Noble had his only brush with the law before the shooting.
Court records show that nearly two years ago, Noble was cited as a minor for reckless driving involving alcohol. The records show that he completed all the court-mandated coursework.
After graduating from high school, Noble got a job installing roofs for Fresno roofing and insulation company, Universal Coatings. He wanted to marry his girlfriend.
“He wanted the best for himself and those he loved,” Sullivan said.