Reuben Gulley: Man charged with murder of TikTok star Ophelia Nichols' son Randon Lee
Lee was shot dead after allegedly meeting up with two people to sell them marijuana, just hours before what would’ve been his 19th birthday
MOBILE COUNTY, ALABAMA: An Alabama man is under arrest and charged with killing the son of a TikTok star on Thursday, August 18. Reuben Thomas Gulley, 20, stands accused of murder, according to Mobile County Metro Jail records, New York Post reported. The defendant is charged over a late June incident that took the life of 18-year-old Randon Lee, the day before the victim’s birthday. Lee, the son of prominent TikTok user Ophelia Nichols, also known as @shoelover99 and Mama Tot, was shot dead after allegedly meeting up with two people to sell them marijuana, just hours before what would’ve been his 19th birthday.
Nichols used her massive online social media fan following to plead for help in finding the killer. “Somebody’s gotta know something,” the heartbroken mother said as she cried on camera in one clip. “This individual took my son’s life. He was just 18 years old. That’s part of somebody’s life. And I know they’re out there, in my town. They’re out there.” Nichols' family claimed they didn’t know Lee was involved in drug dealing. She revealed that she learned “a lot of stuff” that they didn’t know before her son was killed. In another video, she said “We’ve been told that the detectives think that marijuana was being dealt. My son was meeting there, and either they tried to rob him or they did rob him but he was shot”, The Sun reports.
On June 24, 2022, several shots rang out at a gas station on Saint Stephens Road in Prichard, Alabama at around 7.45 pm. Lee, who was shot in the back by his assailant, died after managing to briefly drive away, and crash, after the shooting. Surveillance footage obtained by Mobile-based Fox affiliate WALA adds crucial understanding to how the violence unfolded. In the video, a black car pulls up to a gas pump. Then, a man in a red hoodie is seen leaving the black car and then quickly jumping right back inside. Moments later, Lee’s silver car pulls up to the opposite pump. The man wearing the red hoodie exits the black car again and waits around for a while before heading toward Lee’s car. What happens next is obscured by a gas pump, but the man in the red hoodie appears to get in the backseat of the silver car, directly behind the driver, before closing the door. Eleven seconds pass and the man in the red hoodie gets back into the black car, which speeds away.
The Prichard Police Department believes the fatal shooting occurred during a marijuana purchase gone awry. “We do know at this time that Mr. Lee did have a relationship as far as selling to different individuals,” PPD Detective Jason Hadaway said in June. “These two individuals had bought from him in the past.”
Nichols addressed the arrest in a TikTok video posted Friday morning, August 19. “I’m getting a hundred messages saying, ‘you must be so happy’ and I am not,” she said. “I am not happy. You know, when situations like this happen, or other traumatic situations, I look at everything…” “And when I seen that mugshot last night,” she went on. “I thought to myself, ‘My goodness, he’s just a baby. He’s just a baby.’ And then I seen comments from his teachers that said, ‘I told him in high school he was a lovely young man.’ I bet he was. I bet he was.”
My heart just broke I love this lady Ms Ophelia Nichols aka Mama Tot she has no hate in her body what’s so ever, her son was murdered last night and the killer still on the loose! He was just 19 years old today being his birthday! pic.twitter.com/xExhgjDZbG— Reema (@buddiesquad87) June 25, 2022
She also denounced other TikTokers for talking about the development before she did. “My baby child’s life isn’t some funny gossip story that happened in a funny small town that happened a month ago that we can laugh about it today or one of those nosy stories that I say,” said Nichols, who is known for dispensing folksy advice and positive messages on the platform. The organizer of the GoFundMe for Lee’s funeral expenses ceased accepting donations after raising nearly $300,000.