An Alabama father was killed in front of his 8-year-old daughter during a gun deal gone wrong, police and relatives said.
Ricky Howard Hamrick III took his young daughter on a road trip Sunday from Cleburne County to Bessemer, where he had arranged to sell two guns on Facebook Marketplace, police told AL.com.
But upon arriving for the transaction, Hamrick, 39, was fatally shot in the head, police said.
At least three bullets were fired into his sedan, where his daughter — who was not wounded — was sitting in the front passenger seat, cops said.
“Unfortunately, he sold guns to somebody that ended his life, somebody who we consider a coward, somebody who is going to shoot a person while they’re sitting in their car,” Lt. Christian Clemons said. “No provocation led to this shooting. We’re talking about lowdown, dirty rotten cowards.”
A woman who heard the shots rushed to the aid of Hamrick’s daughter until cops responded to the grisly crime scene, according to the report.
“It took everything in me not to break down in front of her,” said Kelli Brown. “I just could not fathom it. It was so surreal.”
Hamrick’s mother, Debbie Stringer, said his daughter was a bona fide “daddy’s girl” who was looking forward to ending their day together at Whataburger.
“On the way home after we left Birmingham, she said, ‘If them boys hadn’t done this we’d both be so happy. We’d be laughing and [on] our way to Whataburger,’” Stringer told AL.com. “She said, ‘We planned this wonderful day and they just ruined it.’”
Stringer said her granddaughter now has to “live with that” searing memory.
Back at the shooting scene, the girl didn’t want to leave her father’s side — even after he was shot in the head, Brown said.
“I heard a child screaming,” she recalled. “She got out of the car and came around and, bless her heart, she didn’t want to leave her daddy. She was trying her best to stay there with him.”
The girl opened the car door and leaned over her lifeless father, Brown said. Moments later, she ran over to Brown as she called for the girl.
“She was saying, ‘They shot my daddy, I don’t want my daddy to die,’” Brown continued. “I couldn’t do nothing but hold her.”
Brown said the girl was covered in blood. The good Samaritan asked cops not to tell the 8-year-old that Hamrick had died until other relatives arrived, but she already knew.
“She told us detail by detail what happened,” Brown said. “It was horrible. I could not believe they actually did that in front of that baby. Even killing him — it’s just senseless.”
The girl’s mother, meanwhile, was traveling from Texas to Alabama to pick her up and return to the Lone Star State early Tuesday, AL.com reported.
Hamrick, who had lost of one his legs in an earlier accident, had lived next door to his mother in Heflin and she considered him to be her best friend, Stringer said.
“He was just a gentle giant,” she told AL.com. “He had no malice in his heart whatsoever. He loved his family more than anything and his family loved him.”59
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Hamrick bought and sold miscellaneous items online to make a buck, according to his shattered mother, who believes her son was set up by the would-be gun buyers.
The pair of suspects ultimately stole the guns and fled the shooting scene outside a Salvation Army location, WBMA reported.
“It breaks your heart, it saddens you, because this girl can’t un-see what she has seen,” Major Robert Lyle of the Central Alabama Salvation Army told the station. “We live in a world that is just broken, and we want to offer hope and healing and that is found in Jesus Christ.”
No arrests had reportedly been made as of late Monday. Messages seeking comment from Bessemer police and Facebook were not immediately returned early Tuesday.
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