Arlington Police: Shooting Victim Was Good Samaritan

The two victims of Wednesday's accident and shooting lived very close to the scene at Brown Boulevard and Collins Street

By Elvira Sakmari
|  Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011  |  Updated 4:38 PM CDT
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People who worked with the victim who was shot to death at the scene of a fatal crash say helping people was what C.J. Robinson did.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5

People who worked with the victim who was shot to death at the scene of a fatal crash say helping people was what C.J. Robinson did.

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Police said a man who was fatally shot beside a sport utility vehicle involved in a deadly Arlington wreck Wednesday appears to have been a good Samaritan.

Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Ellis Richard said Thursday that 18-year-old Clarence Brian Robinson, who was shot and killed, apparently lives nearby and wasn't in a vehicle.

Robinson approached the SUV and was handed one of the two toddlers inside the vehicle, according to the police report. Then he was fatally shot him.

Robinson worked at a Potbelly Sandwich shop down the street.

"It doesn't surprise me at all that he walked up and approached that car to help," said Jeff McGordy, Potbelly district manager. "That was just who he was -- a caring individual."

Thomas Lester Harper, the SUV driver, allegedly shot and killed Robinson and caused a wreck that killed 42-year-old Najee Nasir.

Harper, 27, is accused of causing two wrecks involving a total of 10 other vehicles and opening fire at the scene of the second crash while his two children were in the backseat.

Investigators said Harper ran into two cars on North Collins Street near Washington Street at about 1:40 p.m.

Police said he continued driving north on the wet street at a high rate of speed, slamming into seven other cars outside an apartment complex on the corner of Brown Boulevard and North Collins Street.

"I just know my car was sideswiped, and then it was like a chain reaction, like a pileup-type thing," Danny Luckey said.

Harper's blue Chevrolet Tahoe rear-ended a gray pick-up truck waiting at a stoplight, police said.  Nasir, the man inside the truck, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Nasir's home address is just one stoplight away from the intersection where he died.

Tarrant County Deputy Constable Rene Hille was one of the first people at the scene of the second crash. He happened to be driving nearby on Collins Street when the crash occurred.

"I called it out as an accident, but then this lady ran up to me and told me this guy is shooting, so I got out and called for backup [and] told them, 'We have a shooting in progress,'” Hille said Thursday.

Hille said he focused his gun on Harper once he located him.

“I had to have it on him at all times because I was scared he was going to get out again and start shooting and go crazy," he said. "At that time, I didn't know what kind of mindset on he was in."

Harper was pinned inside his SUV, which was badly damaged in the crash.

“The window was up, and he would look at me, and he would move up and down, and so I always had my gun trained on him, just in case he decided to come out," Hille said. "Then I'd have no choice but to put him down."

He said he desperately hoped to avoid firing at Harper because there were two children in Harper's vehicle.

Witness Billy Ray Vaughn said Harper was shooting from the driver's seat and was "rambling -- half laughing, half yelling."

"[He] wasn't too concerned for the two little kids," Vaughn said. "Me and someone else were trying to get the kids out. [He] didn't even acknowledge us."

Jason King said one of the toddlers inside the Tahoe tried to get out of the wreckage right before the shooting began.

"She crawled out the top of the window, down by the side of the truck," he said. "She was crawling. When I ran to get her -- another lady was coming from the corner over here to try to get her -- and that's when this guy shoots."

The toddlers in the back of the Tahoe, twin brother and sister, were injured and taken to Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth. Their injuries were not believed to be serious.

A driver injured in the multiple-vehicle wreck was taken by ambulance to a Fort Worth hospital with minor injuries.

Witnesses said he was smiling as police took him away.

Investigators with Arlington police spent Thursday trying to put together a timeline of what happened, from the hours leading up to the crashes and subsequent shooting to the minutes just after.

Arlington police said the most challenging part is that there are two investigations going on -- a traffic accident investigation in which police look into the moments before and what caused the wreck and a homicide investigation in which detectives look into what Harper was doing and who he was with in the hours before the shooting.

Harper is jailed on murder, manslaughter and child abandonment and endangerment charges.

Bond has been set at $555,000 for Harper. Electronic jail records did not list an attorney for him.

NBC 5's Scott Gordon, Omar Villafranca, Ken Kalthoff and Mola Lenghi contributed to this report.

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