Southwest High honors student shot after surprising intruders at home

FORT WORTH -- The 17-year-old Southwest High School honors student shot in the head at his home on Monday died Tuesday morning at John Peter Smith Hospital, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office reported.

Eric Forrester, 17, died at 10:18 a.m. Tuesday, according to the M.E.'s Web site.

Forrester was shot in the head by apparent intruders inside his home Monday afternoon. Fort Worth police have found no evidence that he knew his attackers.

“With the information we have so far, it appears random at this time,” Lt. Chris Beckrich, supervisor of the police department’s violent crimes section, said Tuesday morning.

Forrester was taken to JPS in critical condition.

Forrester had apparently gone to his home in the 6400 block of Poco Court to eat lunch with his 21-year-old sister when the shooting occurred at 1:22 p.m.

Police have said that the pair apparently encountered two male intruders when they entered the home’s back door.

The sister fled out the back door and heard gunfire. After the intruders left, she went inside and found her brother in the kitchen with a gunshot wound to the head.

Beckrich said homicide investigators believe the two intruders entered the home through a back door. He said there is evidence that items were taken from the house, but he declined to elaborate.

“After the incident we have had some suspicious person calls that we are following that kind of matched their (the suspects’) description,” Beckrich said.

Police on Monday searched for two black males in their late teens or early 20s. Also, police said one man wore what appeared to be a blue vest and dark pants; the other wore a white or light gray shirt.

Sgt. Chad Mahaffey, a police spokesman, said he did not know whether Forrester fought with the intruders.

"We know he interrupted them," Mahaffey said. "It could have been a burglary; it could have been a lot of things."

Two men were seen leaving the house, Mahaffey said.

A police helicopter circled the area, and uniformed officers stood outside the tree-lined brick home, which was wrapped with yellow crime-scene tape. Relatives and friends gathered outside, some of them weeping.

At the south end of the street, residents of an apartment complex stood at the metal fence, watching police conduct a search. One woman said her neighbors told her that two men entered the complex and lingered outside her window.

The neighbors told her that the men appeared agitated, she said, acting like they were trying to decide which direction to go.

"It was like they were in trouble," said the woman, who declined to give her name.

Fort Worth school officials were "deeply saddened" and planned to make counselors available to students, Clint Bond, a spokesman for the school district, said Monday.

Forrester, who was active in Boy Scouts and a member of the swim team, was scheduled to graduate this spring, friends said.

Classmates called Forrester a loyal friend who was fairly quiet until people got to know him. Adam Sears, captain of the swim team, fought tears describing him as a "great friend and teammate."

"You can talk to him about anything," Sears said Monday, before Forrester's death. "He'll lend you a hand whenever you ask. If you need a ride home or something, he'll make sure and get you home no matter what else he has to do. He's that kind of guy."

Photos on Forrester's Facebook page show him holding his high school letter jacket with medals draped around his neck.

Friends said he was a strong swimmer, competing in the relay, butterfly and backstroke. Even though swim season ended in February and Forrester was a senior, he regularly joined other swimmers for off-season practice at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center, said his swim coach, Eric Robinson.

Forrester was easy to coach, Robinson said.

"He never complains, just does whatever you ask him to," Robinson said. "He is such a good student, you never have to worry about him having trouble with his grades. He is a great young man."

On Monday, Forrester did not arrive for the 3:15 p.m. practice. Robinson said he assumed that Forrester wasn't feeling well, but then he received a call from another teacher who told him about the shooting.

Robinson said he took the team into a conference room to tell them the news.

"A lot of us broke down," Robinson said. "Everyone is just stunned and sick about it."

Kathryn Hogg, captain of the girl's swim team and a classmate of Forrester's since grade school, said his teammates prayed for his recovery in the hours after the shooting. They waited to hear news from the hospital.

"This terrible thing could not have happened to a nicer guy," she said.

BILL MILLER, 817-390-7684

ALEX BRANCH, 817-7689

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram