Teen who fired into truck and killed man outside a Virginia Beach restaurant sentenced to 17 years

·3 min read

Cameron Barclift had just turned 16 when he was hanging out with some friends near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront late one night a couple of years ago.

The teens were smoking marijuana and walking through the Croc’s 19th Street Bistro parking lot when some of the restaurant’s employees walked out, climbed into a truck and started to drive away.

One of the employees smelled the marijuana and jokingly shouted: “Hey, stop smoking a doobie!” as the group drove away.

Barclift raised his gun and fired one shot at the back of the truck. The bullet shattered the rear window and struck Cole Stuart Grant in the head.

Grant, who’d just turned 23 a few days before, was sitting next to his younger brother in the backseat and collapsed into his lap. Grant’s last words to his brother were: “Are you okay?”

On Wednesday, Virginia Beach Circuit Judge A. Bonwill Shockley sentenced Barclift to 17 years in prison. It was the maximum amount recommended by state sentencing guidelines.

“It pains me every time I see Virginia Beach turned into the wild, wild west,” Shockley said before issuing her sentence. “I live close to the Oceanfront and I won’t go down there at night.”

Barclift, now 18, was identified by witnesses and arrested just moments after the May 8, 2019, shooting. He told police he fired the shot because someone in the truck called him “bitch” and he feared the passengers were “going to do something.”

He initially was charged as a juvenile but was later certified to stand trial as an adult. He pleaded guilty in March to second-degree murder and illegal use of a firearm. He has has been held in a juvenile detention center since his arrest but will be transferred to an adult prison.

Grant’s father, Jeff Grant, gave emotional testimony during the sentencing hearing. A slide show of family photos showing Grant with his surfboard, out on hikes, and volunteering to help build a church and a school were flashed on a courtroom screen afterward.

Jeff Grant told the judge how his son always watched out for others. He gravitated to the kids who didn’t seem to have any friends and stood up for those who were bullied. He went to Croc’s the night of the shooting to walk his younger brother home from work, the father said.

Cole’s death has devastated the family, Jeff Grant said, which was already reeling from the 2013 suicide of Cole’s mother.

Several of Barclift’s family members and friends also testified. They described him as a “good kid” who had been the victim of several crimes as a child, including a drive-by shooting at his home, an armed robbery and an assault by several other youths.

“I’m truly sorry,” Barclift told the judge before his sentence was handed down. “I didn’t wake up that day thinking my actions would lead to the death of someone ... I promise I wasn’t trying to kill.”

Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, jane.harper@pilotonline.com

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