I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a teenager to gun violence.

It has to be even worse when people start saying things about him that aren’t true.

But that’s what family and friends say happened after 17-year-old Denis Mohamed Jaward of Wayne was fatally wounded at 15th and Pine Streets last week during an apparent road rage incident. Reports circulated that Jaward had a weapon at the time he was shot, which people who know him insist wasn’t true. Even as they grieve and prepare for his funeral Mass scheduled for Friday in Darby, they are speaking out to try and clear Jaward’s name.

“Denis wasn’t that type of kid that was into that type of life,” Philadelphia Police Officer Maurice Scott, who mentored Jaward, told me. “He wasn’t into guns. He opposed weapons. He was scared of weapons. He had a level of respect [for them]. Even with me being a police officer, it wasn’t something that [he] even asked about. A lot of young people do ask me, ‘What kind of gun do you have?’ He never did that. We always had these high-level, intelligent conversations.”

Just to be sure that his hunch was accurate, Scott checked with internal sources and learned that Jaward had indeed been unarmed at the time he was shot at least four times on June 15.

“The source would have told me that there was in fact a weapon. So hearing that in the media just kind of made me think about how the narrative is put together in regards to Black young men and guns,” added Scott, a school beat officer in the Roxborough area. “To me it was irresponsible.”

Reporting an inaccuracy that perpetuates stereotypes is not just irresponsible — it compounds the pain that Jaward’s loved ones are already experiencing, added Scott. “He’s being victimized twice.”

Too often, when erroneous reports start circulating, it’s hard to stop them. The old saying is true: A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth even has a chance to get its pants on.

Sadly, I can’t do anything about Jaward’s death. But I can share with you some details about his all-too-short life.

The handsome teen lived with his mom, stepdad, and two younger sisters in Wayne. He loved luxury cars and dreamed of one day owning his own car dealership. Jaward worked at a Starbucks in Jenkintown. He loved animals and was “in love with his hair,” his stepdad, Mark Supplee, told me.

“I just want people to know the kind of boy he was,” his mother, Mayallie Barrie, who is originally from Sierra Leone, told me. “Because he’s a Black boy, they think he’s a thug, which he’s not.”

She said Jaward didn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. “I checked his room. I [would] go and see what’s going on in there ... Denis was a very, very caring boy. If you met him, you would love him instantly.”

That’s what happened for Scott, who met Jaward about a year ago while out on a job. Jaward, a recent graduate of Commonwealth Charter Academy, had lost both his biological father and his older brother to cancer. Scott sensed he needed someone to talk to.

In fact, the day before Jaward was killed, Scott had reached out to see how he was doing and to talk with him about his future plans. Scott never heard back.

Police arrived on the 1500 block of Pine Street around 11 p.m. on June 15 to find Jaward unresponsive and suffering from gunshot wounds. He was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and pronounced dead at 11:16 p.m.

Details are still sketchy, but according to 6abc, a man stepped out of a Nissan SUV and opened fire on the passenger side of the rented Mercedes that Jaward was driving after Jaward had laid on his horn after being cut off. The shooter then reportedly reentered his vehicle and sped off, striking several cars as he drove away. No arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing.

I don’t know how media reports ended up saying Jaward had a weapon when he died. An outlet may have just gotten bad information; perhaps it was because he was carrying mace that looked like a weapon. But Scott says it’s not true that Jaward was armed, and I believe him. I reached out to Philly police to ask but didn’t hear back.

If police confirm that Jaward was not armed, I hope the media stories that reported this inaccuracy take the time to correct it.

Jaward’s parents don’t know how that misinformation got out. They just want people to know the truth about their son.