Young man killed protecting his mother, robber remains at large

- A young man is the victim of a deadly shooting as he tries to protect his mother. James Weldon Ecford Jr. was autistic and had been looking forward to Tuesday because he had a job interview scheduled but he never made it. James heard his mother's screams as she was attacked by a robber at around 11 p.m. Monday. When James ran to help his mother, the robber shot Ecford Jr. in the head.             

“When he was laying there and I came out and I saw the bullet wound, I immediately said, 'He's gone,'" explains James Weldon Ecford Sr., the victim's father. "My wife just kept talking to him. She said, 'James breathe,' and all of a sudden he started breathing again.” Ecford Jr., 25, was pronounced dead a short time later at the hospital.   

Ecford's mother had been returning home at the Sands Point Apartments when the man grabbed her purse.  Her son heard her cries, ran out to help and the robber shot Ecford.

The robber also opened fire on Mrs. Ecford but missed. 

“You took away a special person,” says the grieving father. Ecford Jr. lived in an apartment adjacent to his parents because of his disability. “No one thought he would be capable of doing anything. They didn't think he would talk. They didn’t think he would be able to get around without assistance.”

The young man beat the odds, becoming a football star at Westside High School, getting a scholarship to Abilene Christian University and graduating from Stephen F. Austin University with a degree in graphic design.

”Just like he battled last night with his life, he fought all the way through to try to survive," adds Ecford Sr. "He finished college in six years. A lot of people don't finish at all.”

Ecford Jr. died hours before he was supposed to take part in an anxiously-awaited job interview

“He was really looking forward to it. All he did was be himself and he will never be that again. Forever 25.” 

Witnesses saw the robber get in the back of a white four-door compact car with three other males inside that were waiting for him.

Anyone with information about the identity of the shooter is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers of Houston by phone at 713-222-8477 (TIPS), online by visiting, by text message by sending TIP610 and the information to 274637 (CRIMES) or with the Houston Crime Stoppers in the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store and the Blackberry App World. Crime Stoppers is willing to pay up to $5,000 for any information that leads to the filing of felony charges or arrest of the suspect in this case. People who submit information to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous.

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