DALLAS - Police are investigating a murder in Downtown Dallas of a young man who had just graduated from DeSoto High School.
Dallas police said 17-year-old Leroy Hawkins III and the driver of a red Pontiac sedan were approached by 18-year-old Kenaijae Anderson near Akard and Federal streets just after midnight on Tuesday. Police believe after a brief altercation Anderson pulled out a gun and started firing.
The driver of the car jumped out and ran for his own safety but later returned to help Hawkins. The teen was taken to the hospital but did not survive.
Police said Anderson admitted to the killing when questioned by detectives. He is being held in the Dallas County jail on a murder charge.
Hawkins' death marks the 90th murder in Dallas this year, prompting Gov. Greg Abbott at a Tuesday event in Dallas to offer the police chief assistance from the Department of Public Safety.
“Any increase in murders is a cautionary flag,” Abbott said. “We experienced this three years ago in Dallas. And at the time, I offered the support and aid of the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Dallas Police Department to help Dallas crack down on what was then a spike in murders. I'll offer the same thing right now.”
It was less than a week ago that the 2019 graduating class of DeSoto High walked across the stage to receive their diplomas. Hawkins was among those celebrating the milestone achievement.
He also had a scholarship to play football at Jackson State University. Friends said he was proud of his accomplishments.
"A lot of people doubted him,” said classmate Tasia Massinburg. “He said it on his Twitter that people doubted him and said he wasn't going to make it, and he made it. We were all so happy about that."
“He had an opportunity to get something more. But the things in life, those streets, caught up with him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the chance to go achieve some of those dreams,” said DeSoto High School Alternative Program Principal Homer Webb during a vigil. “But each one of you here today… As long as you have breath in your body, you can do something different. You see the pain that the streets cause.”
The DeSoto Independent School District confirmed Anderson was also a recent DeSoto graduate.
"As our community continues to mourn for Hawkins, we also extend our concern and support to the family of the other young man as well. This tragedy further underscores the opportunity that we have to ensure that our students have avenues and support to adequately navigate and resolve conflicts," the school district said in a statement.
The district said counselors will be available in the high school's counselor's corner for support.
Police are not yet talking about a motive for the murder.