LAWRENCE, Ind. — A man is in the hospital fighting for his life after he was shot in the head while working an overnight shift at a Lawrence gas station.
It happened Sunday morning at the Thornton’s gas station in the 7000 block of Pendleton Pike. According to the Lawrence Police Department, investigators are still working to find out who is responsible and what led up to the shooting.
“It was a very tragic incident and it would appear the clerk didn’t have even really any time to react. The person just walked in, just started shooting,” said Lawrence Police Department Deputy Chief Gary Woodruff.
“We understand he’s still in critical condition in the hospital and there’s a family here that is asking for help,” said Woodruff. “We’d really like to identify who this individual is to bring some kind of resolution to the family.”
Family members said the victim, 22-year-old Tavaris “TJ” Hall Jr., remains in the hospital on a ventilator as he continues to fight for his life.
“He did not deserve to get shot like he did. This was senseless, it was pointless, and I just want my baby to come home,” said Brandy Hall, TJ’s mother.
TJ’s fiancée, Eboni Williams, told FOX59 she now believes she was on the phone with him when he was shot.
“We were having a normal conversation, he was asking about his son and everything and all of a sudden it got quiet,” said Williams. “I heard the phone drop, it sounded like it hit something, it hung up. I’m calling back-to-back. I’m calling over 30 times almost.”
After calling TJ’s mother, who then called his father, Williams learned the news she never imagined she’d get.
“Not even an hour later, I’m hearing he was shot,” said Williams. “It’s just your worst nightmare.”
“My wife had called me and asked me to go check on him because he was on the phone with his fiancée and they said he heard the phone drop and go dead,” said Tavaris Hall, TJ’s father.
When he arrived at the gas station, Tavaris said he saw the scene and was told that his son was taken to the hospital after he was injured in a shooting.
“I’m just numb, still numb. I haven’t been able to process it,” said Tavaris. “That’s my son, he don’t bother no one. Everybody knows TJ. He goes to work, he goes home to his family.”
Brandy added, “I broke into the most horrific scream that I’ve ever done. I hit the floor so hard. It’s like, my body went numb.”
“I didn’t believe it because he doesn’t do anything,” said Williams. “He works for his family, he comes home.”
According to his family, TJ became a first-time father less than two weeks before he was shot.
“He didn’t even get to spend a whole month with him. It was only a week and a half he got to spend with his child before the incident happened,” said Williams.
“My first born was TJ. His first born was his son,” said Tavaris. “He always told me, ‘Dad, I want to be a dad like you.'”
TJ’s family said he is a proud dad and they look forward to him being able to hold his son in his arms again.
“I love seeing him hold his son and talk to him and already teach him things at such a young age,” said Williams. “I love seeing him in dad mode and I always told him that, like, ‘you look so great as a dad,’ and he’s always wanted to be a parent.”
Family said that TJ should have been at home with his fiancée and newborn Sunday morning, but instead he picked up a shift to help at the gas station.
“He picked up a shift for another coworker and trying to make extra money, you know, making sure he could take care of his family,” said Brandy, “In the midst of all of that, my baby almost lost his life. My baby’s right now, fighting to stay alive.”
“He got off at six on that Sunday, so he just opened the doors because they close from 10 to five,” said Tavaris.
The 911 call, according to police, came in around 5:37 a.m. from a customer who arrived to get coffee and found the victim.
Lawrence police released a photo of a person they are seeking information on in connection to the shooting.
“We know somebody out there knows something and we hope whoever knows who this individual may be or recognizes the pictures, make that call to Crime Stoppers, you can call safely and anonymously,” said Woodruff.
“Hearing from this family, that should be very compelling to somebody, hopefully it appears to somebody’s heart strings or their conscience and encourages people with information to step forward,” added Woodruff.
Family echoed the message from authorities and hopes that someone will come forward for what they did.
“We won’t know truly what was going through the individual’s mind until he has the opportunity to talk to us,” said Woodruff.
Family wants their biggest question answered: why did someone do this?
“Everybody lives by the street laws, we don’t snitch. At this point, it’s not snitching. It’s helping another family get justice,” said Brandy. “We don’t know why this happened. We want answers. My baby will never be the same again.”
“You came into a place of business and decided to destroy a whole family,” said Williams. “You didn’t think once about his family. You didn’t think once about if he had other things going on in life, if he had dreams, aspirations, goals.”
Until TJ wakes up and gets his voice back, his family said they won’t stop pushing for justice in his shooting.
“Somebody is fighting for their life and you have a whole family behind them,” said Williams. “Just keep the prayers, please.”
“The best thing to do is, I mean get it off your chest. It’s gonna eat at you at the end of the day,” said Tavaris.
The investigation into the shooting remains ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 317-262-8477 (TIPS), where you will remain anoynmous.