RIP RODNEY: Community calls for unity at memorial gathering: “We work backwards when we take from each other or we hurt each other”

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. (01/31/20) — Family and friends of Rodney Hart gathered together tonight for a balloon release to honor his life.

As each one released their balloons, they lifted their heads to the sky in hopes that better days are ahead.

“Let this be an awakening to us,” David Taylor said. “Two murders in El Dorado in less than three or four days. This is El Dorado. This isn’t Chicago.”

Community members filled the 508 Building parking lot on Hillsboro road with purple, red and silver balloons. Purple was Hart’s favorite color.

He was supposed to celebrate his birthday in just a few weeks. Those that gathered wished him a Happy Heavenly Birthday instead.

“We are here tonight to give Rodney thanks for what he did for El Dorado,” Taylor said.

Family members said it was hard to speak negative about Hart because he was just a great person. His aunt said he was a great father to his three kids and even better brother to those he came across. She recalled a time he bought groceries for a man he didn’t know.

“If you needed his shirt off of his back,” his aunt said. “Rodney would give it to you.”

Another murder that happened this week has also hit the town really hard. Union County Sheriff’s Deputies are still searching for the suspect that killed a pregnant woman outside of El Dorado.

Community members said it’s time to come together in love, put the hate aside and speak up.

“If you see someone trying to do something that’s devilish and evil Talk them down,” a friend of Hart’s said. “Call the police I don’t care anymore. It’s not snitching. It’s taking care of one another.”

The family is pleading anyone with information to just come forward.

There will be a balloon release for Marchella Modica, the other victim killed this week. That gathering will be at Mattocks Park on Saturday at 1 p.m.


Witnesses recount early morning homicide that killed a man, suspect still on the run

EL DORADO, Ark. (01/30/20) — While the county is still investigating a Tuesday morning homicide, the city is also dealing with a murder of their own.

Police say Rodney Hart, 36, was found on the ground with gunshot wounds to his hand, left side and thigh area. The coroner arrived shortly after police and pronounced Hart dead at the scene.

The shooting happened on Cooper Drive which is a one-way street off of Hillsboro Road. Many of the neighbors heard what they believed to be gunshots. The loud noise woke residents up. They said they also heard a woman screaming frantically for someone to call an ambulance. That’s when they knew something was wrong

“The first thing that I heard was gunshots,” Casilda Pedarza said. “We got out and we saw the man laying on the ground.”

Police said Hart had just arrived home shortly before the shooting. One neighbor said he saw the shooter park his car near the end of the street then walk towards Hart’s home with a gun. Moments later they witnessed Hart running away from the shooter then falling on the ground in another man’s yard.

The motif of the shooting is unclear at this time. Investigators are still looking for a suspect.

Neighbors say they’ve been living in the area for quite some time while Hart moved to the trailer home about three months ago. While they try to forget what they saw and heard, remnants of the murder still remain.

“We have some damages to our trucks and trailer,” Pedarza said.

Another man’s home was struck by a single bullet, striking through his young daughter’s bedroom. Many neighbors are thankful to be alive after the shooting and said it could’ve been worse.

Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer called for a city-wide prayer meeting. Union County Sheriff’s Deputies are still investigating the murder of a pregnant mother that was found dead near the Wesson area just outside of El Dorado.

“In our county and in our city, there have been deaths but not just deaths, homicides,” Mayor Smith-Creer said. “So, it was just heavy on my heart.”

Several members of the community and county-wide officials attended the gathering. Chief of Police, Kenny Hickman, and Union County Sheriff, Ricky Roberts, stood with the community-praying for the violence to end.

“I don’t know what the source is to the hate, to the anger hat you don’t value someone else’s life,” she said. “But, I know what my resources are and a lot of that is being prayerful and following what God gives you to do.”

Mayor Smith-Creer said the community needs to be more loving and more unified.

“There could’ve been some issues that could’ve ben prevented had someone known how to detect the situations leading up to some of these homicides,” she said. “You don’t know where evil and hate is going to show up next but love is something that we need more of. Real loves does something. It gives. It works.”


El Dorado Police investigating early morning homicide

EL DORADO, Arkansas (1/20/2020) — Police in El Dorado are in the middle of a homicide investigation this morning.

According to El Dorado Police Chief Kenny Hickman, they were called to the 500 block of Cooper Drive at 1:16 a.m. this morning for a call of shots fired.

When they arrived, they found a man in the front yard of a home with three gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead by the coroner. Police tell us the victim appears to be in their early 30s.

NBC 10/FOX 14’s Gabrielle Phifer is on the scene, and she will have more details on this investigation throughout the day.

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