LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — At the Road Runner gas station on Broadway Street, purple balloons blow wherever the wind takes them, much like the man they represent.
“We don’t have a picture of him. We don’t know who his family is. All we know is this guy was a homeless man that did not deserve to die,” said Sandra Shaw who organized a vigil for the murder victim Sunday afternoon.
The man not identified by the Little Rock Police Department was shot and killed at the gas station Tuesday afternoon. LRPD said he was not involved in the incident, just caught in the crossfire.
His vigil at the State Capitol steps was unlike any you’ve probably ever been to. There were no pictures, no family, not even the last name of who died. Just friends and their raw emotions over how he died.
“His name is Bob. He was a homeless man that never bothered anyone,” remarked Shaw.
She knew Bob from whenever she fed the homeless man meals, and he thanked her every time with a smile.
“We used to get out, and we used to go out under bridges,” Shaw recalled before trailing off into tears.
Bob had nothing to do with the shootout that took his life other than being downtown at the wrong time, five in the afternoon. While he was shot and killed, Sandra Shaw was there also, ducking for cover with her son and daughter.
“Children saw this. One baby almost got killed. Where does the nonsense stop?” Shaw asked.
Pastor Allen Hill came out to the vigil. He said the death, “Has certainly woke me up.”
Though police arrested 22-year-old Antwone Alford for second-degree murder the same day of the shooting, Hill knows another shooting will happen as long as guns keep getting into the wrong hands.
Bob’s death Tuesday was the 32 homicide Little Rock had seen. By Saturday, another person in the city was killed.
“How many more lives must be lost for us to see some real truths and come up with some real solutions?” Hill asked.
Those in attendance of the vigil hope the tragic loss in a public place at a busy time is a wake call. One that resounds from the center of the city, and they hope ripples out, so everyone asks themselves what they can do to take their town back.
As Shaw urged, “Stop turning your heads. Stop hiding. Stop running. Stand up and fight because if we don’t, we’re not going to make it. Our kids won’t have a society to live in where they can be free.”
Antwone Alford is in the Pulaski County jail with no bond. Police are still investigating the killing. If you have any information on this homicide, they ask you to call their anonymous tip-line at (501) 371-4636.