A tweet from one man to another man's girlfriend on the popular social media site Twitter resulted in gunfire Saturday morning, leaving former high school athletic standout Chris Mass dead, police said.
“Chris was a good boy, who liked helping others. Chris was not a bad child. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Charalan Mosley said at the scene. “It all happened over a tweet and Twitter, and all of that stuff.”
Ms. Mosley said there had been a physical altercation earlier between Neal and another man, and Mass was only involved because he was trying to keep things fair.
Martin said police had discovered through the investigation that Neal had sent a tweet to one of the men's girlfriend, and the two met in Champs Sports store in the mall Saturday, where Neal had gone to buy new shoes.
Martin said the men began arguing and decided to take the confrontation outside.
“Neal returned to his vehicle and told his girlfriend to go in the mall to purchase his shoes. As the other subjects approached Neal, he pulled out a .40-caliber handgun from his vehicle and fired several rounds at three subjects that were approaching him.
Martin said Mass was struck twice and died from his injuries at the scene. The other two men fled and were not injured in the shooting.
When asked whether the shooting could be defined as self-defense, Martin said that it did not appear to be the case, because no other weapons were found at the scene.
“(Neal) could have got in his car and left. He didn't have to do what he did,” he said.
Ms. Mosley said she had known Mass for years and watched him grow up as a little boy and said he was considerate and caring.
Bill Toon, Chapel Hill Junior High athletics coordinator, said he was saddened about the news about Mass, a player he coached years ago.
Toon said he talked with Mass two months ago.
“He came by the school, and we were just talking about what he was doing, and he wanted to know what I was doing,” Toon said. “It was just a normal conversation of when a student comes and visits a coach. I just remember when I had him in junior high, he was a good athlete and good person and always passed his grades. He was a junior high kid who loved the game of football and basketball and was just a good ol' kid.”
While at Chapel Hill, Mass led the school to a state semi-finals in basketball in 2007, and he missed most of his senior year with a severe knee injury. He still caught the attention of college football scouts, which secured him a scholarship at Stephen F. Austin University.
Toon was upset that the former Bulldog had lost his life in an act of gun violence.
“It's sad, especially for the Chapel Hill community, when you have a kid that was involved in the school as much as he was, and goes off and at a young age loses his life. … He will be sorely missed.”
While police were working the scene a 30-year-old Tyler man went underneath the crime scene barrier tape and continued toward Mass' body, despite multiple officers telling him to stop.
He was released a short time later on bonds totaling $1,000.
Broadway Square Mall officials told KYTX CBS19 that this was an isolated incident and no extra security measures were needed.
Staff Writers Victor Texcucano and Shane Stark contributed to this story.