Nearly eight years have passed since the murder of Derrick “Brian” Jackson. Jackson was just 21 when he was shot and killed on Chandler Avenue in Evansville.
In 2019, his murder still remains unsolved and no arrest has been ever been made. Friends and family say Jackson was full of life when his life was tragically cut short on a Sunday afternoon in October 2011. Police questioned witnesses and there were unrelated arrests in the case but no one has ever been charged with murder.
For many murder victims, their families are often the ones left behind to speak for them. To give their loved ones a voice silenced by senseless violence. Bridgett Tate is one of those moms trying to find answers to her son’s 2011 murder.
Tate has questioned the purpose of her son’s death for nearly eight years now, “Everybody says things happen for a reason, God lets things happen,” says Tate.
On October 9th, 2011, her only child was gunned down in the 500 block of Chandler Avenue in Evansville. With no real answers years later the pain and grief seem to be growing with time. “It just hit all of a sudden he’s not coming back, he’s not coming back and it looks as though you’re not ever going to get any justice and my worst fear is that people are starting to forget,” says Tate.
Tate says her only child was fun and loving from birth. Being her only child, Jackson, was her pride and joy and she has the pictures to prove it. “Oh yeah, he’d be like ‘mom are you serious?’ Yes, I’m serious,” says Tate. Pictures and memories are all Tate have left.
Jackson was murdered in broad daylight directly across the street from a church. A man by the name of Ronald Ritter witnessed the shooting. “I’d lived here for nine years and was kind of used to the things that had gone on,” says Ritter.
Ritter lived in the 500 block of Bayard Park Drive and while he may have been used to the neighborhood a shooting in his backyard was not something he thought he’d ever witnessed. “I can close my eyes and see it just as plain as day as it took place. The guy had long dreadlocks and was a tall skinny Black man,” says Ritter.
Ritter says he was standing along the side of his neighbor’s house about 20 yards from the shooter when he saw the man fire three shots. Ritter says witnessing the murder in cold blood left him frozen. “I thought ‘nope, I am not getting involved with that I’m staying out of it. I’ve seen enough, I’ve witnessed enough, that’s enough for me’ and that’s when I ran back over there and waited for the policemen to arrive,” says Ritter.
Jackson died at the scene before he could receive treatment. He would be one of just four murder victims in 2011. Now almost eight years later whoever shot Jackson has never been held accountable. The unanswered questions surrounding his death affect his mother in ways more than one. Tate has PTSD and like other parents of murder victims, she says every time there’s a shooting in the area it’s a wound reopening.
Tate is part of MASK (Mother’s Against Senseless Killings). “It’s no longer just a problem it’s an epidemic and it’s not going to get any better.” Tate’s been waiting for answers to her son’s murder for eight years and in that time dozens of other victims have died by bullets. Some of the killers caught and others still at large, “It was a shame I couldn’t positively identify the man who shot him because I was so scared but it’s just terrible,” says Ritter.
Jackson was just 21-years-old, killed before he could even realize his dreams. His grieving mother’s wish is a simple one: “Say his name, Brian, Brian say any of your loved ones that have been taken away to this senseless crime. Say their name because we want them never to never be forgotten and Brian, he was all I had, I mean that was my only child,” says Tate.
Tate says it’s never too late to say something if you know something. Evansville Police are always looking into new tips or leads. Anyone with information should call the Evansville Police Department at (812) 436-7896. Anonymous tips can be called into the We-Tip Hotline.