Family describes shooter as 'good father'

22-month-old Tyaijah Hester

May 9, 2011 5:05:03 PM PDT
Genese Chicques says she was with her relative Tyrone Hester in the minutes before he decided to shoot and kill his 22-month-old daughter Tyaijah and then himself Saturday.

"The look in his eyes, the way he was, I felt like he was going to do it, but I just didn't know where, when, how, or you know," she said.

Friends say Hester was despondent because he and the child's mother - his girlfriend of four and a half years - had recently broken up. Chicques says she tried to talk him out of doing anything rash.

"I told him 'Maybe she doesn't know that you're a real guy and that you really love her. She's not worth it. She doesn't deserve you,'" Chicques recalled. "I said look at that beautiful baby, your beautiful daughter. And he said 'I know G, but I love her.' He was crying and everything."

Chicques says Hester and the baby's mother Latoya Smith had been arguing on the phone. He told Smith that he and the baby wouldn't be here much longer. She called police and when police called him, he apparently snapped. Chicques heard the shots.

Tyaijah's mother told ABC11 over the weekend that she was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Hester.

Experts at the Durham Crisis Response Center say there's a reason an abuser may choose to kill a child instead of his wife or girlfriend.

"By removing her from the scenario, she wouldn't hurt. She wouldn't be left to suffer. So, by injuring and killing her child, that's the ultimate and she's constantly reminded that she no longer has her child at the hands of her abuser," Leslie Muir explained.

Muir says women in abusive relationships should get help from experts in coming up with a safety plan before leaving the abuser. That's because leaving often puts a woman at the greatest risk of being hurt or killed.

"I think the worst thing a victim can do is underestimate what a batterer will do," said Muir.

But Hester's family describes him as a "good father" with a broken heart.

"It's just sad, and I know it's not right what he did, but no one knows what he was going through," said Chicques.

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