Carl Wilson was a senior at Martin High School, a defensive lineman on the Warrior football team and an 18-year-old single father who raised his 1-year-old in a modest Arlington apartment.
Wilson knew a lot of things, his guardian Lisa Tennison said Tuesday night, such as when to walk away from a fight. But he was gunned down 3 miles from school Monday afternoon.
Investigators have said that Wilson was involved in an “altercation” with another student on campus during lunch Monday, a few hours before he was shot in the head in the street in front of a self-service carwash in Kennedale.
Tennison said Wilson called her Monday and told her that there had been an argument and that he wouldn’t let it get to him.
“He walked away from the argument at school,” Tennison said in an interview during a vigil Tuesday night. “He just cared about his son and graduating. He didn’t care about drama.”
Kennedale Police Chief Tommy Williams said investigators do not believe that the student Wilson argued with is the one who shot him.
His body was found in the street at 6300 Treepoint Drive off Little School Road near the Arlington-Kennedale border.
Wilson, who was pronounced dead at 4:06 p.m., was shot multiple times in the head, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office reported Tuesday.
Martin cheerleader Jireh Davis helped organize a 5:30 p.m. candlelight vigil at the school Tuesday. The crowd appeared to number in the hundreds. Many who spoke referred to Wilson as “family.”
A helicopter hovering overhead made it difficult to hear most of the speeches. Students sobbed as they clutched blue and black star-shaped balloons and tried to listen.
Davis said that from the moment she met Wilson with his son, she felt love for him.
“The one thing he stressed was that he wanted to go to college and make something for his son,” Davis said.
Wilson’s guardian said that the teen would have been less likely to walk away from a fight three years ago but that he had grown into a man.
She said he just had a tryout for the Kilgore College football team.
Officially, his name was Carl Wilson Jr., and his son is Carl Wilson III, Tennison said. But the child is known as Junior. Wilson had sole custody of his son and was raising him with help from his 20-year-old sister, who was too distraught to talk at his vigil.
Williams said police spoke to the classmate with whom Wilson had the “altercation” and believe that he was not involved with the shooting. Evidence indicates that someone else got involved, he said.
“You’ve got some people who feel like, for whatever reason, they had to interject themselves into a disagreement between two high school students,” Williams said.
After receiving an anonymous tip from Arlington police, investigators seized a black Lincoln SUV that they believe left the scene of the shooting, Williams said.
“Investigators have a tentative identification of the driver, who has not been located. The driver is believed to have ties to an Arlington gang. There is no indication that the victim had any gang ties,” Williams said in a statement sent out late Tuesday.
Williams said the suspects live “fluid lives.”
“A lot of the witnesses that know these guys are afraid of them, because you are talking about a suspect, who if they shoot someone unarmed in the middle of the street, they are going to shoot anybody,” Williams said.
Martin Principal Marlene Roddy said she thinks “some words were said” during the lunch period Monday between Wilson and another student, but nothing significant.
“It was brief. It was actually corrected and handled immediately,” she said.
Later, several people met at the Kennington Apartments parking lot near the carwash where Wilson was found dead, Williams said. No weapons were found at the scene, and no one involved lives at those apartments, the chief said.
During lunch Tuesday, about 200 students gathered at one of the school’s gyms for a prayer vigil.
Roddy said the school observed a moment of silence at the start of the day — a “very subdued, very sad day.”
“We understand that they would probably feel angry, hurt and sad, but we need to take this incident to show our character,” Roddy said.
Family and friends are working with Martin officials to raise money for his funeral and set up a trust fund for his son.
“The way to heaven isn’t bitterness — it’s straight-up forgiveness,” Davis said.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792