The father of seven shot while riding his bicycle in the East Village was a “peacekeeper” who wanted to rebuild and reinvigorate that neighborhood, his family told NBC 7 in an exclusive interview Monday.
Duane Wicker, 47, was fatally shot in the back of the head Saturday afternoon along J Street. A suspect, 46-year-old Rafael Davis, was taken into custody Monday, accused of his death.
Wicker’s wife, Angela, said she was planning a night out for them when she got the news. “He was a good guy, love bug – my love bug. There’s no reason. No reason. None,” she said of the shooting.
The family believes Wicker was in the area to visit his mother. His death shocked his four children and three step-children, who said he always tried to keep the peace in the sometimes chaotic neighborhood.
“I was just confused, like just confused. I couldn’t move,” said his son Deouche. “I was just frozen, I was hurt, but I just know deep down inside he wouldn’t want me to be upset. That’s not who my dad was.”
A volunteer assistant coach with a Pop Warner football team, Wicker worked as a day laborer but stayed active in his community.
Though he lived in Paradise Hills, he was known to ride his bike in the East Village, both for his own health and the health of the area. Deouche described how his father would visit transient camps and troubled youth, offering them hope.
“It touched me heart because they would come out the tents and they would just see my dad,” he said as he teared up, “they'd see my dad and it was just like their day was made.”
Everyone who met him loved him, multiple family members told NBC 7, and before his death, Wicker was at a high point in his life. He was planning on relocating the family to North Carolina, where he wanted to work for a program helping youth.
According to his step-daughter Lashonte Allexander, Wicker thrived as he met people from all walks of life and tried to stay active and healthy.
“They have no idea what they took,” said Lashonte. “They have no idea they took the best thing that probably ever happened to this family ever. He was a good person, very good.”
Saddened and discouraged by his father’s death, Deouche nevertheless said Wicker would not want to see his family moping and mourning for too long.
It has inspired his eldest son to keep building on what Wicker started.
“I want my dad’s legacy to live on. I want his dream to keep dreaming. I want his dream to live on,” Deouche said. “My dad wanted to give back. He wanted that area, that neighborhood to rebuild, to get back on its feet.”
Now, the family wants answers about his killing.
The suspect, Davis, was arrested near National Avenue Monday afternoon – the area where Wicker’s mother lives. He has been booked into jail on a murder charge. Police have not released information about a motive.