ARLINGTON -- Mourners filed passed a replica of the Liberty Bell on Thursday evening, each ringing the bell once, at a vigil for Kimberly Deshay Carter, 29, and Jillian Smith, 24, a rookie Arlington police officer.
Smith and Carter were killed Tuesday by Barnes Samuel Nettles, 38, a man with a long criminal history who turned his weapon on himself after shooting the women, police have said.
Candace and Charlie Washington, Carter's younger sister and brother, expressed their appreciation for those who attended the vigil, saying it was a sign of the community's love.
The two were the only members of Carter's family who felt ready to face the public, Candace Washington said.
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"There was a lot of negative stuff going on between [Carter and Nettles] before this happened," she said. "But we never thought it would go this far, or be this bad."
Her siblings described Carter as a beautiful young woman with a bright smile, a great mother with a great future.
"She always talked about leaving him, but we didn't know," Candace Washington said. "We just kind of let her do her own thing. With families, there are some things you can control and some things that you can't."
Carter had called police to her apartment, saying she wanted to report an assault. She said she was alone with her 11-year-old daughter, police have said.
Moments after Smith arrived, about 8 p.m., Nettles appeared with a gun, police have said.
"She did not deserve to die like this," Candace Washington said.
And to Smith, the officer who put herself between Nettles' gun and her 11-year-old niece, Washington said, "I appreciate what you did so much."
The shooter's record
Nettles apparently moved from Washington state to North Texas in the past year. Washington records say he was arrested several times but was offered a plea deal each time, resulting in little time behind bars.
Tacoma police arrested Nettles on June 19, 1995, on suspicion of two burglaries, but he pleaded guilty to attempted burglary. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and received a suspended sentence and two years of probation.
In February 1996, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault of two girls, ages 14 and 12, according to Pierce County sheriff's records. He was charged with two counts of rape of a child but pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and two years of probation. He was in prison from May 1997 to January 1998 on the rape conviction, serving part of that time in a work-release program.
Seattle police arrested Nettles in March 2004 for reckless driving, assault and violation of a domestic-violence court order. Nettles' 31-year-old girlfriend told police that she was riding with Nettles, who was driving her car, when he became enraged that she had called her ex-husband, according to court documents.
Nettles, who had a handgun, took her to an ATM and demanded that she withdraw $300 to repay a debt for a cellphone bill, the document says.
The girlfriend said that she later tried to jump out of the car but that Nettles bit her.
Nettles was convicted and received three suspended sentences of one year in jail on each charge, as well as another stint in a work-release program and two additional years of community supervision.
In King County, Nettles was arrested May 7, 2004, on a warrant accusing him of violating a court order and domestic assault.
Nettles was sentenced to one year and 361 days on the violation charge and one year and 363 days on the assault charge, but the sentences were suspended.
In another Pierce County case, Nettles was arrested in February 2008 for not registering as a sex offender in connection with the 1997 rape conviction. Nettles was sentenced to one day in jail and put on probation for 36 to 48 months.
Staff writer Alex Branch contributed to this report.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752