Three parents tearfully scrolled through cellphones Wednesday morning, flipping through photos of a smiling, happy young man: their son, Yorrick Michaels-Toms.
Michaels-Toms, 24, was shot and killed last Thursday at an apartment in the 4500 block of Westcliff Road in Killeen, and his family is asking the community for help to find out why.
“If anyone has information about anyone who may have been involved, or anyone who was there, please reach out,” said Rhonda Toms, who is Yorrick Michaels-Toms’ stepmother.
“Our son is loved,” Toms said. “He had an immeasurable amount of family support.”
She came into the Herald on Wednesday with Charles Toms and Renee Michaels — Michaels-Toms biological parents — to talk about their son. The three are on a unified mission to find out what happened, and they are encouraging anyone with information about the case to call the Killeen Police Department.
Police say they are investigating, but have released few details on the case.
According to police reports, officers were responding to a burglary call when they found Michaels-Toms suffering from a gunshot wound, but his parents say there is more to the story, claiming that their son had no previous criminal history and had never spoken of problems with anyone. He had recently passed a criminal background check for his job at Blackboard, which he started just a few weeks ago, the parents said. Prior to that, he was working two jobs — at Teleperformance and Smoothie King.
Michael-Toms had a relentless work ethic, and had a goal of earning a commercial drivers licensing and one day owning his own 18-wheeler and working across the country, his family said. He leaves behind a 1-year-old daughter.
It was his family that brought Michaels-Toms to Killeen earlier this year. An “Army brat,” his childhood was spent moving alongside his parents, all three of whom served in the Army.
Renee Michaels said her son moved to the Killeen area, where she lives, after he lived in Virginia for many years and wanted to experience Texas. He had moved to the apartment complex where he was killed in October. He was killed at a nearby apartment unit to his own, his parents said. Compounding the mystery, the family said they believe the apartment he was killed at is vacant.
And although he had only been in the area a short time, she knows he made an impact.
“I wake up to so many messages now,” Michaels said. “So many people are offering condolences and letting me know how kind he was to them, saying things like ‘he was always so encouraging.’”
“That’s just who he was,” said his father, a retired sergeant first class. “He had such big dreams, and big aspirations. His mind just never settled.”
Now, his parents believe it may have been their son’s kindness and willingness to see the best in people that led him to get involved with people he shouldn’t have, and ultimately, to his death.
“Someone out there knows what happened to him,” Charles Toms said. “We need help. We won’t rest until we get justice for him.”