As the search continues for Terrez Coleman’s killer, more than 100 mourners joined his parents Tuesday night for a candlelight memorial to remember the vibrant 7-year-old and to call on the community to help solve a crime that, so far, has baffled investigators.
Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said they are no closer to finding Terrez’s killer now than they were four weeks ago, but they are still pounding the streets tracking down any leads. There are still no suspects or motives.
“So far, everything we’ve run into is dead ends, but that’s part of the business and we’ll keep running down those dead ends,” Gautreaux said. The sheriff recently announced a $12,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the shooter.
Terrez, his twin sisters and his parents, Felicia and Terry Coleman, were headed back from a family reunion in Clinton on Aug. 16 when, about 11 p.m., they passed through a wooded part of Prescott Road near Joor Road. A single bullet punctured the car’s rear side window, grazing Ty’lia Coleman, one of Terrez’s older sisters, in the stomach and striking Terrez in the torso, killing him almost instantly.
Terrez was sitting between his sisters when he was struck. Ty’lia survived.
His parents thought a tire had blown out, but soon realized something was wrong. Felicia Coleman turned around and saw the back seat covered in blood and Terrez slumped to the side.
Terry Coleman drove to the District 6 Fire Station at the corner of Prescott and Lanier Drive. Despite the best efforts of two firefighters to revive Terrez, the 7-year-old died.
What makes this case difficult, Gautreaux said, is that investigators don’t have the clues they normally do, such as witness statements or several items to run forensics testing on, to aid in the investigation.
“Most cases, we have a little something to go on,” Gautreaux said.
Gautreaux said they are about as sure as they can be that the bullet that killed Terrez was fired from a light-colored, four-door sedan, citing the trajectory of the bullet and other factors. Investigators scoured the road shoulder and treeline for any evidence that the bullet was fired from the trees, but found nothing, Gautreaux said.
At Tuesday’s memorial, the sheriff updated the attendees on the case and articulated how Terrez’s murder has shaken the community and stolen a sense of security for a lot of people.
“To date, there has been no justice for Terrez,” Gautreaux said. “We don’t know who shot him. That person should be behind bars.”
Other law enforcement officials spoke with similar tones and urgency for those in the community who know any details about the shooter to come forward. They officials all conveyed a message that God is holding the family in his hands and that justice would eventually be dealt to the shooter.
The Rev. Danny Donaldson, pastor of Rose Hill Baptist Church, where the Colemans attend services, presented the parents with a Mardi Gras-colored toy horse that someone dropped off at the church, knowing Terrez’s love of horses and his own horse, James Brown. The family said they will be keeping James Brown because he is part of the family and reminds them of Terrez.
After the speakers finished, the mourners each took out small, electronic candles and turned them on as Terrez’s favorite song, the CeCe Winans hit “Waging War” bellowed from the church’s speakers.
Ty’lia and Te’ria mouthed the words as they swayed back and forth, while their parents, standing between the two girls, wiped tears from their eyes. By the end of the song, almost everyone in the church was swaying in unison, with their candles and some cellphones held high.
Felicia Coleman said she has been overwhelmed by the support of the community since her son’s death.
“I felt very loved and I pray that my prayers are answered,” she said.
Her husband said the family is moving forward one day at a time and the grieving process has not been easy.
He said he went back to work at a Choctaw Drive machine shop not long after his son’s death because he could not sit at home any longer, thinking constantly about Terrez’s death.
Deputy Keva Vessel-Sims, the victim’s assistance coordinator working with the Coleman family, described them as “hurt and extremely lost.”
She said when she talks to them, which is almost daily, she tries to avoid bringing up that night when Terrez was shot, but the conversation usually veers toward that, leaving Felicia Coleman in tears.
Stacy Campbell, Felicia Coleman’s aunt, said even more than four weeks after the shooting, family members are still struggling to come to grips with Terrez’s death. She said she finds herself looking at pictures of Terrez, or “Ray Ray” as he was called, at recent family gatherings for Easter and his grandmother’s birthday where he danced with his mom.
Looking at a picture of Terrez dancing, she mused: “Who would have even thought that would be the last time he ever danced with his mom?”
Follow Ryan Broussard on Twitter @ryanmbroussard.