Witnesses in Lawrence describe the scene after a shooting early Sunday morning left three dead and sent two more to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Jason Boatright, Hunter Woodall and Robert A. Cronkleton The Kansas City Star
Witnesses in Lawrence describe the scene after a shooting early Sunday morning left three dead and sent two more to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Jason Boatright, Hunter Woodall and Robert A. Cronkleton The Kansas City Star

Local

Relatives say Lawrence shooting victim was trying to be best father to new baby

By Max Londberg, Robert A. Cronkleton And Adam Darby

jlondberg@kcstar.com

October 01, 2017 1:15 PM

One of the victims of the early Sunday morning shooting in Lawrence sought to be the best father possible to his baby daughter, relatives say.

Colwin Lynn Henderson III, 20, of Topeka was killed in a shooting early Sunday morning on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence along with Tre’Mel Dupree Dean, 24, of Topeka and Leah Elizabeth Brown, 22, of Shawnee. Two other people were wounded.

Dean and Henderson were friends, according to Henderson’s grandfather, Lynn Henderson.

“I heard that everybody was leaving, and all of a sudden they just started shooting,” he said.

Colwin Henderson’s mother, Novel Carter, said through tears that she knew few details late Sunday morning, hours after she’d gotten a phone call from her youngest son about the death.

“I mean, my mind right now,” she said by phone, trailing off. Later, she texted The Star that Henderson had recently been released after being incarcerated and aimed to turn his life around. He pleaded guilty in Shawnee County in September 2016 to two counts of aggravated battery and one count of criminal discharge of a firearm, court records indicate.

Ten months ago, Henderson’s girlfriend gave birth to his first child, a girl.

“(He was) trying to change around for his baby he loved so much,” Carter said.

Henderson’s younger brother, Jordan Henderson, 18, said that when he first heard of the killings, he refused to believe it. He hurried to Lawrence from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, where he is enrolled as a freshman.

“I couldn’t start crying because I didn’t want to believe he had died,” Jordan Henderson said. After visiting the crime scene and not seeing his brother, he next went to the hospital, asking to see Colwin Henderson and choosing to believe he was still alive.

Carter, his mother, finally convinced him that his brother had been killed.

“That’s when it hurt me the most,” Jordan Henderson said. “We look like twins, and now it’s like another half of me is gone.”

Jordan Henderson said his brother was a football standout at Shawnee Heights High School, in Tecumseh, Kan., east of Topeka. He played tight end and hoped to play in college until a knee injury his junior year.

His younger brother described Henderson as gregarious. “Always around people. Nobody ever had hate for him.”

He thinks his brother was in the “wrong place, wrong time.”

“A lot of gunshots were fired and he was just caught in the gunfire,” he said.

Henderson’s sister was at the Granada with him, Jordan Henderson said.

"To think that it happened here is crazy."

University of Kansas students stunned over shooting that took three lives in downtown Lawrence.

Allison Long The Kansas City Star

Interim Police Chief Anthony Brixius told the Lawrence Journal-World that police, who are headquartered in the 1100 block of Massachusetts, heard at least 20 gunshots near that location and responded to the scene, along with medical personnel.

Henderson was attending the #ASSJAMZ event at the Granada. Grammy-nominated rapper Lil Yachty, who earlier in the night had performed at KU basketball’s annual Late Night in the Phog, was scheduled to play later at the Granada, 1020 Massachusetts St., according to the theater’s website.

Lawrence police believe the shooting stemmed from a physical altercation that occurred near the northwest corner of 11th and Massachusetts streets at about 1:40 a.m.

The event attended by Henderson at the Granada ended at 12:30 a.m. and the venue closed by about 1 a.m. 

An emotional crowd of at least 20 people gathered outside the entrance to the emergency room at Lawrence Memorial Hospital on Sunday.

“My grandson — I tried to tell him to stay out of trouble, but sometimes you can’t tell what your friends are going to do,” Lynn Henderson said. He added that his grandson had been having difficulty finding permanent work opportunities because of his criminal record. He had been working in temporary positions.

Henderson had studied at Kansas City Kansas Community College. His Facebook page indicates he took business courses.

“He was a good kid,” Lynn Henderson said. “He was trying to do better ... trying to raise his family.

Henderson’s mother echoed his grandfather.

“(He) loved his siblings and mother. He wanted to always keep family close,” Carter said.

Many have posted plaintive notes in remembrance of Henderson.

“I can never in a million years comprehend the hurt you’re feeling Novel Jean (Carter),” wrote Christina Butcher. “My heart is so heavy today. Losing a child has to be the absolute worse thing a woman could ever experience. Losing a sibling is just as painful.”

Sierra Avalos wrote, “Man why y’all have to take him? He didn’t deserve to die so young once he was getting his life back on track.”

Tay Capone wrote that too many from Topeka were being lost — either from being killed or incarcerated.

None of the three who were killed Sunday in Lawrence was enrolled at the University of Kansas, according to Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, a university spokeswoman.

The two other victims were being treated at hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries.

Police asked for help identifying the shooter or shooters. No further information, including suspect information, was being released.

Anyone with information about the fatal shootings is asked to call Lawrence police at 785-832-7509 or the Crime Stoppers of Lawrence and Douglas County at 785-843-TIPS.

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg

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