GARLAND — Sobbing punctuated prayers and song during a candlelight vigil Thursday night to remember the 7-Eleven clerk whose promising life was abruptly ended in a shooting this week.
Friends, family and many who barely knew Yosef Tulu came out to the Garland store where he was slain to mourn the Ethiopian man, who had moved to America with dreams of a better life for himself and his fiancée.
The gathering culminated a day in which police announced that Colten Jon Moore, the Garland teen accused of killing 31-year-old Tulu early Tuesday, had also confessed to a shooting reported Jan. 16.
The victim in the earlier shooting, who also was shot at a convenience store while on duty as a clerk, survived the attack, said Garland police spokesman Joe Harn.
“Had we not found him for the murder, we would still not know who did that shooting a week ago,” Harn said of Moore, 18. “Nobody saw him. There was no video of him.”
Tulu was shot after handing over money and cigarettes to a masked man with a scoped rifle early Tuesday. The gunman then forced him to lie down behind the counter and shot him twice, police said. A spent .22-caliber Remington casing was found near Tulu’s body.
HOW TO HELP: Fund for Tulu’s kin
7-Eleven Inc. has set up a fund at Chase Bank to help Yosef Tulu’s family through donations. The account number is 555289953.
Friends of Moore’s came forward after police released surveillance video from the shooting. The friends told police that they had seen Moore wear a hunting mask similar to one seen in the video, according to an arrest warrant affidavit released Thursday.
Moore had been telling friends for more than a year that he wanted to shoot someone with his father’s rifle and make it look like a robbery, the affidavit says. The friends told police that he had said he planned to take the gun from its locked case while his father slept and return it later, the document says.
Police had received no tips about the teen before the shooting, Harn said.
Moore was in the Dallas County Jail on Thursday, charged with capital murder in Tulu’s death and aggravated assault in the other shooting. Bail was set at $1 million on the murder count. The bail amount had not been announced on the other charge.
On Jan. 16, police responded around 11:40 p.m. to the Homeboy’s gas station in the 2500 block of Firewheel Parkway, across the street from the 7-Eleven where Tulu was shot. A clerk had stepped outside the station and was shot twice before he got back inside to call for help, police said.
The clerk was probably shot with the same rifle used to kill Tulu, Harn said. The victim, who has not been identified, remained hospitalized at Medical Center of Plano and was expected to be released Friday, Harn said.
The Dallas County Jail website listed Moore’s lawyer as Brad Lollar, who did not respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
Attempts to reach Moore’s immediate family members were unsuccessful. Reached by phone, Moore’s godmother, who did not want her name used, said the family would have no comment.
Some parents whose children attended high school with Moore said their kids thought of him as a nice, “cool guy,” not anybody who stood out.
One of Moore’s teachers at Richland College said the teen was social but arrogant in class. Moore was studying graphic design at the school, according to his Facebook page.
The teacher, who asked not to be named, said Moore was confrontational with his teachers but didn’t seem dangerous.
Moore was arrested in December in Garland for public intoxication. He was arrested in May on a charge of marijuana possession in Brown County; he received probation.
Despite the cold weather, about 200 people attended Thursday’s vigil, including a large turnout of Ethiopians. A small mountain of flowers and stuffed animals piled up near the entrance to the 7-Eleven.
Andualem Shoro, Tulu’s brother-in-law, made a brief statement thanking Garland police and asked for prayers for both families.
Martha Tamrat and Ameha Gebremichael said they didn’t know Tulu but wanted to show support.
“It’s really painful for everybody,” Gebremichael said. “Everyone is coming here to make money, support family back home, and a lot of family may depend on this guy.”
Tulu moved to Garland from Ethiopia about five years ago, leaving behind his fiancée, said Bayelegn Megeren, a friend of Tulu’s sister-in-law.
“He had a lot of plans,” Megeren said. “They’re cut short.”
Megeren described Tulu as hardworking. He was enrolled in school to become a nurse and planned to return to Ethiopia in the next few months to marry his fiancée and bring her back to Texas, he said.
“When I saw his picture, Yosef could have been my son,” said Mac Mekonnen, a leader of North Texas Ethiopians. “Yosef came to this country like all of us; we migrated for better opportunity, to catch that American dream.”
Only a handful of vigil attendees knew Tulu, but his smile and kindhearted demeanor touched many, including Sarah Ryan.
Ryan, who used to work at the Tom Thumb next to the 7-Eleven, said Tulu was always friendly and “had a smile for everyone.”
“It’s one of those instances where bad things happen to the very best people. It’s not fair.”
7-Eleven also announced this week that it would help Tulu’s family with expenses related to transporting his body back to Ethiopia. The company also has offered professional counseling services to store employees.
From staff reports of DallasNews.com
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