When a life is cut short at a young age, the list of missed milestones seems to grow long fast. Wednesday, 19 year old Tyrek Jenkins was shot and killed while walking home from a store in his Pleasant Grove neighborhood. A few days later, his infant son turned five months old. The first of many missed milestones.
“He was simply getting food for his little baby who will never get a chance to see his father again,” said Jenkins’ grandfather, longtime Dallas activist Reverend Ronald Wright.
Police said Jenkins didn’t have any known enemies and there wasn’t a clear motive. Jenkins worked for Amazon and his family says he was devoted to his girlfriend and child. The family is now asking what they can do to make sure what happened to Jenkins doesn’t happen to someone else.
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“They’re saying, 'Papa, we have got to stop this. We have got to take our neighborhoods back over and start monitoring them' and I agree,” said Wright.
Last month, another young parent was killed during a robbery at the Dollar General store in Oak Cliff. Gabrielle Simmons was shot even after complying with a robber’s demands. The suspected gunman is 15 years old.
“If it continues to grow increasingly out of control and we say absolutely nothing, it runs the risk of becoming the norm,” said District 4 Councilman Dwaine Caraway. “And, we are approaching the norm.”
Caraway says he is in the early stages of launching a new program called “Can You Make to 40?”
“If we can get them to 40 years old to begin to realize the reality of life is worth getting there, then we would have done our job,” said Caraway.
The councilman said he spoke with the new police chief and has had conversations with former gang members about connecting with young boys and girls in Dallas, encouraging them to think about their future.
“If you can make it to 40, that’s when the real party starts. That’s when real life truly begins,” added Caraway.
Wright, who has spent years working with youth in South Dallas, says he also wants to do more to address where criminals are getting the guns. He also wants to know the motive behind the shooting.
“The way this took place, this boy never stood a chance. They shot him in the back and drove right by him,” said Wright. “So, I would simply like to ask what would cause you to do that to somebody?”
Wright says police have told the family detectives are making progress on the case, but no arrests have been made yet.
The family says it will hold a funeral service for Jenkins on Saturday. A fundraising account has been established to help his girlfriend and child.