Family pleads for justice in airman's killing

A procession, escorting the remains of Airman 1st Class Shaquille Hargrove, passes through Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., on July 18, 2013, on the way to Denver International Airport where Hargrove's remains were flown back to Wilson, North Carolina.


By JON JIMISON | The Wilson (N.C.) Daily Times | Published: August 10, 2013

It’s been nearly a month since Airman Shaquille Hargrove of Wilson was shot and killed in downtown Denver.

And each passing day without an arrest sends family and friends further into despair.

Grandmother Golynda Hargrove Powell has been on an emotional rollercoaster. She recently returned from a trip to Colorado where Buckley Air Force Base personnel honored her grandson during a packed memorial service for the 19-year-old.

"It was almost like going to his funeral again,” said Powell, who saw firsthand how much Hargrove meant to his military family at Buckley. "I let them know he was loved by us, too.”

Powell spoke out in the Denver media this week, pleading for justice and, more specifically, an arrest in this case. She fears the city and its law enforcement will move on and no one will ever be arrested as the family desperately fights for some type of closure and peace of mind.

"I called the Denver police yesterday and they didn’t return my call,” Powell said. "It is really bothering me. I know someone knows something. I won’t let it die.”

Meanwhile on Friday, Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said Hargrove’s death remains an open investigation. No arrests have been made.

Jackson said there was no new information to release and pointed to a composite sketch Denver police previously released in the case seeking a suspect.

The fatal shooting took place July 13 in an area of Denver densely populated with bars, which all close at 2 a.m. Several disturbances and the shooting coincided with the closings, Denver police said. Officers were called in to break up numerous fights around the time of the shooting.

Family members believe Hargrove was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Another airman was injured during that incident. Jackson said he was assaulted. Both men were stationed at Buckley.

During her visit to Colorado, Powell visited the spot where the grandson she helped raise was killed.

"Just like a bunch of clubs and stuff ... looks liked they had a lot of cameras around, surveillance and such,” Powell said.

She believes one of those cameras must have captured something useful.

Powell was shot and killed at the 15th and Market Street intersection in the LoDo district.

In the past year alone, according to a Wilson Times review, that intersection and immediate area around it has been the site of frequent violence and crime. Police reports showed 10 aggravated assaults, 17 larcenies, 13 crimes against a person, four robberies, six auto-related thefts and two other crimes.

And in a large city where 40 people can be killed in a year based on 2012 statistics, it’s challenging for a family so far away to keep one in the forefront of people’s thoughts.

"I am pleading with people to come forward,” Powell said.

Powell visits her grandson’s grave often seeking comfort. She misses him so much, she said.

"By not hearing anything, we don’t have any closure,” Powell said. "I want to know why he died and why I haven’t heard anything from the detectives and what is going on with the case.”

Buckley Air Base

This past week, Buckley officials lifted the temporary off-limits ban instituted July 14 for Chance’s Grill and the intersection of 15th and Market streets.

Military officials placed the area off limits to 460th Space Wing members to allow investigators to conduct a thorough investigation, they said.

Hundreds of Buckley military officials and personnel lined a main street on base to give a final military courtesy to Hargrove as his remains were taken through the base July 19 on the way to the airport to be flown to Wilson. The packed memorial service there was held on July 24.

Buckley Air Force Base is located in Aurora, Colo., a Denver suburb. Buckley is home to the 460th Space Wing.

Other arrests

There have been arrests from that violent night in Denver. A group of men are accused of assaulting two victims and intimidating a witness in downtown Denver at about the same time and place as Hargrove was killed, according to prosecutors.

But spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said the Denver District Attorney’s Office doesn’t otherwise see a connection to the homicide.

The assault occurred at the same time and intersection as the one where Hargrove was fatally shot. At this time, officials believe it to be unrelated, Kimbrough said.

Christopher Hobbs, 29, Willard Keeland, 24, and Shawn Williams, 28, were all charged with multiple counts of first-degree assault and crime of violence. Jerrol Jones, 23, is also charged with obstructing a peace officer and intimidation of a witness, officials said.

Prosecutors allege that on July 13 around 2 a.m., a large fight broke out in the intersection at 15th and Market streets. During the altercation, two men were injured and a third person was later the victim of intimidation, officials said.

A probable-cause statement for Jones’s arrest states "during the disturbance, another man was also shot and killed.”

The statement says numerous witnesses were taken to the Denver Police Department headquarters for interviews. Witnesses were seated on the second floor and separated.

Suspect takes shape

Witnesses cooperated with homicide detectives to provide enough information to complete the composite sketch, Denver police spokesman Raquel Lopez said.

The suspect in Hargrove’s death is described as a light-skinned black man with acne who is in his 20s, 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 160 to 180 pounds. He had tightly woven braids under a "doo-rag,” police said. Police ask anyone with information to call 720-913-7867.

There is a $2,000 Crime Stoppers reward in the Denver region for information to help solve the killing. The tip line is manned 24 hours a day.

Jackson said officials are urging anyone with information or footage of the shooting to come forward.

 Joining the military

Hargrove, a 2011 Fike High School graduate, joined the military out of high school seeking something greater than himself.

And he was already great, said Lt. Col. John Henley, his commanding officer at Buckley Air Force Base until just recently.

"He was by far one of my best airmen,” said Henley, who traveled from Washington, D.C., to attend his funeral. "On his initial evaluation, the Q1E (Qualification One Excellence), he got the best you can get in the command. No one has gotten that in three years.”

Hargrove’s killing was a senseless tragedy, and he’s going to be missed, Henley said.

"The things he did for the 2nd Space Warning Squadron satellite systems engineer, I don’t think people understand what he did,” Henley said. "He commanded control of constellation of satellites 22,000 miles out in space with ground stations around the world sending command to make sure they are where they are supposed to be protecting our Blue Suiters overseas.”

Hargrove’s mother, Bernadette L. Harrison, said she also went to Buckley for the service and it went well.

Family members are turning to their faith and memories of Hargrove to get them through the difficult days ahead.

"Somebody knows something,” his grandmother said.


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