WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday night for 32-year-old Julius Sampson, known by loved ones as 'juice.'

Dozens gathered to cry, pray, recount happy memories and honor Sampson.

Forsyth County Sheriff Kimbrough attended, and made a speech. 

Sampson's uncle Calvin Salley also spoke to the crowd. 

"He was a father, husband, and loved by his family," Salley said.  

Sampson is a father of three. 

"He got married under a year ago now his babies won't even see him again, how do you explain that to a child?"

Kadeam James says he was with Julius when he died.

Wedding Pics of Sampson
Chris Smith

James said he and Sampson stepped in to defend the bartenders when a couple of customers were upset after getting cut off from alcoholic beverages.

"We tried to do a good deed and help them out by getting the two gentleman out the restaurant, so that’s what we did and one thing led to another by him using racial slurs saying calling out names."

Winston-Salem Police say that’s when 22 year old Robert Granato pulled out a gun and shot Sampson.

"I just screamed out call the ambulance I called out juice breathe, breathe just breathe because I watched my friend, I watched my friend leave," James recounted.

James said ran toward the gunman and made sure he couldn't leave until the cops came. 

"It was just the heat of the moment, and my mind and my heart was with my friend and he way laying there bleeding out and I couldn’t do nothingbut keep him from harming someone else, or harming myself."

But all the friends and family who attended the vigil want us to focus on the good: Sampson's light and laughter. 

"He was an excellent man," Salley said. 

"He's always just so positive," Angelica Bacote said. 

"His smile, his smile man lit up the room his laugh," James said. 

James added that Sampson was a mentor to all and will have a lasting legacy. 

"We'll never forget Juice, his legacy will live on forever."

The vigil organizer gave WFMY News 2 a statement from Sampson's wife that reads in part: 'my husband wasn't an animal that deserved slaughtering.'

"My husband wasn't an animal that deserved slaughtering." Powerful s... tatement from the wife of victim Julius Sampson, shot to death in BJ's restaurant parking lot yesterday. WFMY News 2