Like most mothers, Toniqua Roche couldn’t help but be concerned when her son, Chuck Harris, moved from Detroit to Arlington in October.
“When you can’t see them and you can’t monitor what’s going on with them, you worry,” said Roche, a 15-year officer with the Detroit Police Department.
But Harris, 20 at the time, had recently been laid off from his job and wanted to do more than the odd jobs he was finding in Detroit. A high school friend who had recently moved to Texas with his family told Harris about better job opportunities in Texas.
The move, she said, seemed to have agreed with her son. He had already found work cleaning airplanes at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and working events at Texas Christian University. He was saving money with hopes of moving into his own apartment.
“He called me every two days,” Roche said. “He was the happiest I’ve heard him. I actually talked to him Saturday. ... He was doing good. He was making plans for the future.”
A day later, Arlington police say Harris and friends were playing a pickup basketball game at Brantley Hinshaw Park with three strangers when Harris and one of the unknown men got into a shoving match.
Harris and his friends were leaving about 6:45 p.m. when the man involved in the shoving match fired a shot from a handgun in their direction, striking Harris in the abdomen, before fleeing on foot. Harris was taken by his friends to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
“This was a senseless act of violence,” said Tiara Richard, an Arlington police spokeswoman. “The shooter might not even realize that he killed anyone. But this young man’s life was ultimately lost over a basketball game.”
On Wednesday, police released a composite sketch of the shooter, asking for the public’s help in identifying him.
Roche said she is struggling to understand how her son could leave one of the most violent cities in the nation only to be slain in Arlington.
In 2013, Detroit had 14,504 violent crimes and 316 murders or cases of nonnegligent manslaughter, compared with 1,837 and 18 in Arlington, according to FBI crime statistics.
“There’s a lot of factors that cause me to believe that Arlington was a good opportunity for him. Once he got there, it proved to be true,” Roche said. “I just didn’t think he would succumb to the violence he was attempting to evade. My heart is aching over that.”
She said when people ask her if she believes her son was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, she insists that he was not.
“Absolutely not,” she said she tells them. “He was where he was supposed to be.”
She said that although she and her son’s stepfather, also a Detroit officer, had raised Harris to be cognizant of his surroundings and avoid potential dangers, “how can you prepare them for danger in a park?”
“At a park — in the daytime — it doesn’t seem real,” she added.
She said she wants people to know about her son’s life, see his face, know that he wasn’t just a random person.
“It’s almost like people now accept the loss of life,” Roche said. “I see a lot of people marching and screaming about how black lives matter. I feel all lives matter. Nobody is marching and screaming about what happened to my son. It’s almost like it is acceptable because the right person didn’t take his life.”
“His life mattered,” she said. “I feel like the person who did this to him is a thief and a murderer. He stole. He stole everything from my son. His potential, his future and he stole my son from his family.”
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655
How To help
The gunman was described as having a goatee and shoulder-length dreadlocks with blonde tips. He was wearing a white tank top, white shorts with a light blue trim at bottom, tall black socks and royal blue Nike Air Force One high-top shoes. Those with information about the man’s identity should call homicide Det. Byron Stewart at 817-459-5691 or Crime Stoppers at 817 469-TIPS (8477). Tipsters to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and could receive a reward of up to $1,000 if the information leads to an arrest.