Tears filled Debbie Wade’s eyes as she spoke quietly about her adult son with Asperger’s syndrome.
“He was a loving kid with a gentle heart,” Wade said, describing 23-year-old Keith Wade. “He wouldn’t hurt anyone. He would hurt himself before anyone else.”
But the Arlington man donned body armor, carjacked a motorist at gunpoint and was killed in a confrontation with an Arlington police officer July 15.
Even his mother still isn’t sure why.
On the day of the shooting, her son may not have been taking all his medications for Asperger’s syndrome and depression, she said.
Debbie spoke to the Star-Telegram one recent morning about her son.
Born and raised in Arlington, he made good grades, was in ROTC and stayed out of trouble. He attended Arlington Martin High School, but graduated from Arlington High School.
School counselors alerted Debbie to concerns, and Keith was later diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder related to autism.
Debbie was a single mother raising three boys. Her husband died of a heart attack when Keith was 4.
Bishop Keith L. Ackerman, who baptized Keith Wade in 1993 at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Arlington, said the family’s financial situation may have contributed to Keith’s behavior that day.
“Due to their financial difficulties they could not afford medication, and for the last 6 months Keith was unable to take medications,” Ackerman said in an email.
Trouble had started in 2012. Tarrant County criminal court records indicate he was charged with assault causing bodily injury to a family member in June of that year, when he threatened his younger brother.
He was sentenced to two years of probation. But his probation was revoked when he was arrested the next month for stealing three watches, two necklaces, a pair of earrings and one pair of sunglasses, according to court records. Wade was sentenced to 60 days in jail and ordered to be examined for mental illness and mental disability in December 2012, records state.
Debbie declined to provide any other details on the 2012 incident, but she said her son changed. Keith decided not to go to college, and pledged his life to taking care of his mother.
So for the past few years, he kept up with his mother’s doctor appointments and made sure she took her medications.
His family says he cooked meals for his mother. Roasts were among his best dishes.
“He loved cooking for her,” said Jessica Dixon, the girlfriend of Keith’s older brother. “He didn’t talk to people much because he always had his earbuds on.”
Keith spent hours at the Arlington library, researching everything. He was also a movie fan. He did not have a girlfriend or close friends. His mother drove him everywhere because he didn’t have a driver’s license.
Debbie and Dixon said he rarely caused problems for the family. But within the past year, Keith got on the internet and bought body armor.
“I asked him why he bought it, but he wouldn’t tell me,” Debbie said.
Police first encountered the family that day when they responded to the report of a domestic situation at the Wades’ apartment. Keith had threatened his older brother. It was after officers arrived that the violence began.
Detectives “feel confident that the suspect forced a deadly encounter between the officer and himself based upon his actions and refusing to drop his handgun,” police spokesman Lt. Chris Cook said in a previous statement after Keith was killed.
“It’s unfortunate that even through extensive negotiations he made the decision that led to the fatal outcome,” Cook has said.
A Tarrant County grand jury will consider the case.
Debbie doesn’t have answers.
“He was always polite, but he didn’t like rude people,” his mother said. “I just don’t know exactly what happened to him.”