The family and friends of Dylan Noble have a message for anyone who will listen: He loved life and would not have wanted his to end.
The 19-year-old had a new job in construction, was committed to his girlfriend, made friends easily and stuck his neck out for them. He wanted to be a professional DJ, but mostly, he wanted to be a dad.
That’s why his death Saturday, shot by Fresno police after what they describe as a fast confrontation, doesn’t make sense to friends like Megan Sullivan, who knew him throughout high school. She said Noble would diffuse situations by apologizing and being goofy.
“He loved life. He absolutely loved life,” Sullivan said Monday. She said Noble’s love of life makes it impossible for her to believe he could have said he hated it in front of police.
Fresno police Deputy Chief Pat Farmer said Saturday that Noble made a statement that he hated his life. When he was told to show his hands and Noble made a movement to the small of his back, officers shot him several times.
I don’t want people to think all these things about him. He doesn’t deserve that.
Megan Sullivan, a friend of Dylan Noble
Sullivan said everything was going well for Noble: After having problems at Clovis High School, he went to Sierra Charter School, caught up and then graduated from Clovis High. Noble had just moved in with his girlfriend and started a new job.
She remembers Noble for the way he loved and cared for his mother, his younger brother and his best friend.
He was not someone looking to take his life, as the narrative by police would suggest.
“I don’t want people to think all these things about him,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t deserve that.”
Abby Parnell, 19, met Noble through mutual friends her sophomore year of high school. They became fast friends.
She remembers Noble as very social: “He could go out to some place he’d never been to before and make friends,” Parnell said. “He was energetic and loving. There’s no way nobody couldn’t like him.”
Gavin Paull, 20, agrees. “He was the sweetest guy, and everybody knew that,” Paull said. He met Noble at Jerry Brown’s Bull Riding, a riding ring in Friant that Noble frequented every Thursday night.
Everybody wants justice, nobody is going to let this down.
Abby Parnell, friend
That’s why social media has exploded with support, via Facebook, Twitter, GoFundMe and Change.org, with hashtags like #Justice4Dylan, #RIPDylanNoble and even #DonutsforDylan. An online petition seeking release of police bodycam video of the shooting had more than 8,800 supporters as of Tuesday evening.
Parnell loves the response.
“Everybody wants justice, nobody is going to let this down,” Parnell said.
Sunday night vigil
Both Parnell and Paull attended Sunday night’s vigil, a night heavy with car and motorcycle exhaust and tearful, angry emotions.
Noble liked dirt bike riding, so friends rode their motorcycles to the vigil and roared their engines to honor him.
“It was really hard, but I felt like he was there, I felt his presence,” Parnell said. “It was really intense.”
Paull estimated about 500 people congregated at the Chevron gas station at Shields and Armstrong avenues in east-central Fresno around 8 p.m. to honor Noble. The vigil turned into a protest of police brutality.
That night, another effort started gaining ground, characterized by the hashtag #whitelivesmatter and Confederate flags.
Paull said he thought the vigil was beautiful, but he admitted it got out of control with the protests and graffiti.
Lou Standifer was Noble’s English 12 teacher during Noble’s freshman and sophomore years at Clovis High School. Standifer gathered the hundreds in attendance for a prayer around 8 p.m.
“The kid was my heart,” Standifer said. “Looking around here, that’s obviously a pretty common thing.”
Before a short prayer, Standifer said he felt it is “unfair” to let Noble’s death go by, adding that the community needed to know about “the real Dylan.”
Gail Rowell, grandmother of Noble’s girlfriend, said Noble, who was planning to attend Fresno City College in the fall and soon marry his girlfriend, was “not depressed, not belligerent and not dangerous.”
Parnell and many of her friends have called Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer, demanding the body camera videos be released. The calls are in tandem with a Change.org petition that makes the same demands.
“I really want justice for him,” Parnell said. “My name is tattooed on his leg – we did that for fun. I love that kid. I want who he was as a person to be out there. He wasn’t the person the cops say he was.”