When Caroline Williams saw on the news Monday morning that an unidentified man had been found shot to death on Hanks Drive outside the Port Royal apartment complex, her heart broke. She had an awful feeling the man was her brother. 

"Everything in me knew it was him," Williams said. "I knew nothing good would come of him hanging out over there."

Baton Rouge police soon confirmed her fears. Derrick Wilford Parish, 48, had been found with multiple gunshot wounds in a parking lot at the corner of Hank Drive and Airline Highway around 2:30 a.m. Monday. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Remnants of crime scene tape clung to a signpost and snaked down the road later Monday morning after police had cleared the scene.

The shooting occurred just south of the Port Royal apartments, which opened within the past few years to provide affordable housing near Baton Rouge's Brookstown neighborhood. At least two other homicides have occurred inside the gated complex over the past several months, and the surrounding area has long been plagued with crime. The recent shootings have incited fear among residents, many of whom moved there to raise families in the new development. 

Williams said her brother — who leaves behind three adult children and three grandchildren — had been staying there with his girlfriend for the past few weeks. Parish's siblings worried about him hanging around in what they believe is a dangerous area of Baton Rouge. 

Derrick Parish and siblings.jpg

Derrick Wilford Parish (back center) and his siblings

"We would always tell him that's not a good place," said Monique Jackson, another sister. "I don't think he understood how bad it was. He was always a trusting person. … If he couldn't help you, he wasn't gonna hurt you." 

Dozens of relatives gathered at Williams' house Monday afternoon and shared Parish's story while grieving together. He was one of eight siblings and part of a large extended family.

The siblings said they had been making frequent efforts to check on him at the Airline Highway apartment complex. They said Parish worked for about a year at Billy Heroman's Flowers, driving a forklift in the warehouse, but had left the job in recent months because he was having trouble getting there after his car broke down. 

Parish moved to Baton Rouge about two years ago after spending most of his life in Opelousas. He graduated from Plaisance High School — a class clown who became known for his skill as a left-handed quarterback — and then attended Grambling State University, where he played football for a few semesters, his sisters said. He left college and moved back home to be closer to family.

Even as an adult, he was the life of the party, always ready with a practical joke or playful insult, his family said. He loved to cook, especially etouffee, and most of all loved his children and grandchildren. 

While mourning their brother, the siblings also reflected on previous losses. Two of his sisters lost their sons to gun violence within the past decade, one in Baton Rouge and the other in Opelousas. 

"Put the guns down," said sister Heather Parish, whose son was killed in 2016. "When you pull the trigger, not only do you take a life, but you damage the ones who are left behind. Whole families are destroyed."

Relatives said they're worried the case will never be solved, in part because it happened in a high crime area. The two most recent homicides that occurred inside the apartment complex — shootings that ended the lives of Jamison Murray Tate, 21, in August and Justin Netter, 40, in September — both remain unsolved. 

"We are waiting for justice, but how long will we have to wait?" Heather Parish said. "If anybody knows something, I hope they realize this could be their family, so please speak up."

Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.