Fort Worth

Racist rants, threats preceded Labor Day killing of black man, police say

Kevin A. Parnell
Kevin A. Parnell

This article contains graphic descriptions.

Sammie Jones’ fatal mistake proved to be answering the knock at his door on Labor Day.

Outside, police allege, stood Kevin Ashley Parnell — the 38-year-old stepfather of a young woman who had previously dated Jones’ roommate, Jordan Briggs.

Parnell, who is white, was angry that his stepdaughter had recently been arrested for prostitution and blamed Briggs, who is black, for it, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Police say Briggs denied having anything to do with the stepdaughter’s arrest.

Earlier on Labor Day afternoon, investigators allege Parnell sent Briggs a series of racists messages through Facebook, calling him the n-word, threatening to “hang” him and remarking, “I’m going to strip you naked and whip you like the slave you are.”

A couple hours later, Briggs told police a white pickup pulled up to the house in the 8000 block of Julie Avenue where he and his roommate stayed.

“He banged on the door three times. I told Sammie not to answer. I went to the back and instantly froze up,” Briggs told the Star-Telegram.

From where he stood, Briggs heard Parnell asking for him, then going on a racial tirade against blacks after Jones told him that Briggs was not there, according to the affidavit, written by homicide detective M.D. Green.

Jones, who was black, apologized and was attempting to calm the man down when Parnell remarked, “You know what kind of gun this is boy, it is a Glock 40,” Briggs told investigators.

The sound of a gunshot then followed.

‘He just shot my bro’

“He was shot because he was trying to keep an irate man from his friend,” said homicide Sgt. Joe Loughman.

Briggs told police he looked down a hallway in time to see Parnell closing the front door and leaving. A neighbor also reported hearing a gunshot and then seeing a white man with a gun walking to pickup and speeding off.

“Sammie was being so calm. ... He just shot my bro in the face and burned off,” Briggs told the Star-Telegram.

Jones, 28, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Loughman said investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Parnell that same night. The Benbrook man was arrested by fugitive officers the next day while working a contract job at the General Motors plant in Arlington.

On Tuesday, some posts allegedly made by Parnell were still visible on Briggs’ Facebook page. One, posted about two hours before the shooting, reads “You were warned.”

Prostitution charge dismissed

Ironically, Parnell’s stepdaughter is biracial, according to his Facebook page and court documents. The prostitution charge against her was recently dismissed after she was placed on deferred-adjudication probation in connection with an unrelated theft charge.

Parnell remains in the Mansfield Jail with bail set at $500,000.

Kevin Rousseau with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office said it was unknown Tuesday whether the case would be tried as a hate crime.

“We’re going to have to review the case more thoroughly before we make a determination,” he said.

Under Texas law, punishments for certain crimes can be enhanced if a judge or jury concludes that the offense is a hate crime. There is, however, no enhancement for first-degree felonies, including murder, because such offenses already carry a penalty range of five to 99 years in prison.

Staff writer Matt Martinez contributed to this report.