When Diedre Crawford repeatedly called Tommie McCoy on Feb. 6, there was no answer.
Then she got the devastating news that the man fatally shot that night on a Metro Transit bus in Minneapolis was the man she’s been with for the past 11 years.
“He was a good guy, a very good guy,” she said.
On Thursday evening, a vigil drew about two dozen mourners to the bus stop where McCoy was killed. Friends and family members shared memories of a man who had a tough life but enjoyed helping others.
McCoy, 51, was on a southbound C-Line about 9:30 p.m. when another passenger shot him in the face as the bus stopped at a transit center in Ramp A at N. 1st Avenue and 9th Street. McCoy died at the scene. A second man was also shot, but survived.
Police arrested Malcolm James Lessley, 26, in connection with the shootings and he was charged with second-degree murder. He remains in the Hennepin County jail.
Lessley has previous convictions for aggravated robbery and theft, court records show, and was civilly committed for mental illness in September.
This wasn’t the first time McCoy had been shot. He was wounded in a shooting in Chicago, where he lived before moving to the Twin Cities six years ago, Crawford said.
Since arriving here, McCoy had done temporary work for Atlas Staffing. He worked as a dishwasher and did security at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Crawford said. He also was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army during the holidays.
McCoy had been in Chicago days before the fatal shooting to visit his daughter and 11-year-old granddaughter, Crawford said. He wanted to bring them to Minneapolis and was meeting with a housing advocate at the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center in hopes of getting an apartment big enough for the three of them, Crawford said.
He was on the way to the center when he was shot that night.
His daughter watched the vigil from Chicago via a livestream, as many told stories of how McCoy had shaken loose from a rough upbringing on Chicago’s South Side.
Trahern Pollard, a cousin who happens to drive a bus for Metro Transit, said McCoy was killed simply for telling two arguing young men, “Y’all need to chill out.”
“We’ve got elders that ride on public transportation that’s afraid to say anything to these youngsters,” Pollard said. “The reality is it’s a shame that his life had to be sacrificed in order for the community to come together like we’re doing right now.”
The vigil came a day after Metro Transit officials pledged to bolster the police presence on trains and buses.
According to the criminal complaint, surveillance video from the bus showed that Lessley and McCoy appeared to talk to each other before Lessley walked several seats closer, took out the handgun and shot McCoy in the face. He then shot the second man, who was standing next to a door, in the head.
Lessley was armed with a handgun when he was arrested a few blocks away.
The second shooting victim, James P. Wilkins, 27, has been released from the hospital, but his actions on the bus are still under investigation. Video footage shows that Wilkins received a handgun from a female. After being shot, he gave the gun back to her before emergency personnel took him to HCMC. Wilkins is a felon whose convictions prevent him from legally possessing a firearm.
A Minneapolis police officer later recovered the revolver in a bag from a drawer in Wilkins’ hospital room.