A man whose mother recently made him sell two assault-style rifles because she was afraid he’d harm himself or others now stands accused in the random fatal shooting of a 55-year-old man in October.
Billy Joe Williams Sr. had been walking to pick up his grandchildren from the school bus stop on the afternoon of Oct. 25 when he was shot at least twice by the driver of a passing car in the 6000 block of Grayson Street, according to homicide Detective E. Pate.
Despite being shot in the chest, Williams was able to tell responding officers that he’d been shot by a black man driving a black car.
He was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital where he underwent surgery but died from his injuries the next afternoon, before detectives could interview him.
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Friday morning, police arrested Ernest Eulice Morrison, 24, in the shooting. Morrison was in the Mansfield Jail Friday facing a murder charge with bond set at $500,000 .
Pate says there is no indication that Morrison knew Williams. He said the shooting appears to have been “very random.”
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, homicide detectives initially had little information to go on in the case.
A nearby resident told police she had gone into her front yard after hearing gunshots and saw a black Dodge Charger or Challenger driving down the street and then turn around.
She told police the driver — a light-skinned black man with short hair and a mustache — did not appear to be in a hurry.
Surveillance video from a nearby home enabled Pate to confirm that the suspect’s vehicle was a black Challenger.
Researching police calls around that time involving such vehicles, homicide Detective Jerry Cedillo found that two days before the shooting Morrison had been accused of pointing a pistol at his mother, then driving away in a black Challenger.
Pate said the mother made a report about the incident but did not seek charges against her son.
“She was scared he might hurt someone else. She didn’t want to file charges because she said she wasn’t in fear of her life. She wasn’t scared he would hurt her,” Pate said.
Cedillo also discovered that Morrison had reported a 9mm Glock handgun stolen in June. Investigators found, however, that the “stolen” gun had been in the police property room since October 2016, when it was confiscated after a disturbance that did not involve Morrison.
Researching that gun, Pate learned it had been purchased by Morrison at the Alpine Shooting Range.
Pate met with employees of the shooting range earlier this month, who informed the detective that Morrison and his mother had just been at the store on Dec. 4. The employees told Pate that Morrison’s mother had made him sell two “assault style rifles” in exchange for $700.
“She communicated to those employees that she had concerns (her son) was a danger to himself or others,” Pate said.
According to the affidavit, the employees warned Morrison’s mother that her son still had a handgun that they had sold him on a previous occasion — apart from the 9mm Glock he reported stolen.
The mother replied that she knew about that gun and “had put it away at home,” the affidavit states.
Detectives met with Morrison’s mother last week, who directed them to the Glock handgun, kept in a box on top of a kitchen cabinet. Ammunition in the box matched the type found at the scene of Williams’ shooting, the affidavit stated.
On Wednesday, investigators received confirmation that the 9mm casings found at the crime scene had been fired from the Glock recently seized from Williams’ home, the affidavit states.
Morrison's father, Ernest E. Morrison III, 49, of New Orleans, said he is heartbroken that the Williams family has suffered this loss and that his thoughts and prayers go out to them, but he and his ex-wife did everything that they could to try and prevent this situation from happening.
His son was discharged from the U.S. Navy two years ago because he suffers from schizophrenia and was hearing voices while deployed, the father said. Doctors with the Veteran's Administration would only prescribe medication to keep him sedated without addressing the real problem, according to the suspect's father.
"The last time I was at the VA I was literally in tears pleading with them to treat him because he was a danger to the public," Morrison's father said. "My ex-wife kept bring guns back to the gun shop. We feel like everyone failed us and an innocent person lost their lives because of it."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Staff Writer Mitch Mitchell contributed to this report.