Don Hardge Fired His AK-47 Into a Crowd Of Teens, But He Swears He's No Killer

The family of a dead teenage girl might disagree, even if the justice system didn't.

"We wanted to come by and let you know we made an arrest," Quirk told Payne's father, Melvin Thomas, who stood in the garage of his pale yellow South Oak Cliff home as video cameras caught the scene. The younger of his two little girls, a solid student who hoped to become a pediatrician, had been shot down just 20 days shy of her 16th birthday. It was the summer between her freshman and sophomore year at South Oak Cliff High School.

"That's justice. That's justice right there," Thomas said, nodding his head at the news of Hardge's arrest.

The episode's ending disclaimer stating that suspects are "presumed innocent until proven guilty" seemed to be the only inkling of a chance that Hardge wouldn't be sent away for murder. As he listened to the episode from jail through his ex-girlfriend's phone, Hardge recalled recently that he felt like the "littlest person in the world."

Don Hardge maintains that his bullet did not kill Juanita Payne.
Brandon Thibodeaux
Don Hardge maintains that his bullet did not kill Juanita Payne.
This shopping plaza on East Red Bird Lane was the location of party venue JeRenee.
Brandon Thibodeaux
This shopping plaza on East Red Bird Lane was the location of party venue JeRenee.

As the case progressed, the notion of justice became less clear-cut. Hardge implausibly told authorities someone robbed the gun from him the day after the shooting, and the bullet that killed Payne was never recovered. The case against him was thinner than it first seemed. Time dragged on as Hardge awaited the outcome of a murder indictment.

He had been behind bars for nearly three years and anticipated many more when he entered a plea agreement filed on May 27. It dismisses the murder charge and states that he is guilty of engagement in organized criminal activity. The charge is a catch-all for several gang-related offenses, but in Hardge's case, it means he engaged in "deadly conduct" as a member of DFW Mafia. On the morning of his sentencing hearing at the end of this June, a jail guard led Hardge to the holding cell in the courthouse to face a sentence of up to 20 years. Cold and nervous, he sat on the bench of the windowless cinder-block room, hoping for probation and knowing it was unlikely.

When he was called into the courtroom in his gray striped prison jumpsuit and handcuffs, he was happy to see his mother, cousins, daughter and Henderson had showed up to support him. His cousin remarked that Hardge's appearance had changed. He gained significant weight and jailhouse tattoos marked his forehead and cheeks.

Hardge's little girl, now 3, played on the benches, and his mother babysat her in the hallway when she became too energetic for the courtroom.

The gang unit's Walls testified that Hardge's tattoos were a testament to ongoing gang affiliation. Photo after photo of his old and new tattoos flashed on the projector screen — a bold "DFW" across his left biceps, three tears falling from his right eye, "Triple D Texas" across his left cheek, MOB (for "money over bitches") on his right hand, and a Champagne bottle with "DFW" on the label on his right forearm.

Dr. Reed Quinton of the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office testified that a bullet struck Payne, who had no alcohol or drugs in her blood, in the right side of her back and exited through her left side, traveling slightly upward and back to front, hitting vital organs in its path and causing her to bleed to death. But, he testified, an autopsy found no "lead snowstorm," a wake of debris in a bullet's path that's often associated with a rifle wound. "I don't think it's a very large caliber," he said.

There's no way to tell which gun did it? prosecutor Dewey Mitchell asked.

"That's correct," Quinton said.

Judge Carter Thompson sentenced Hardge to 16 years. While his family returned home, he went back to his cell. Prosecutor Mitchell felt it was important to send a message to other gang members that these cases are not taken lightly. "It's a messed-up world for those kids," he says.

Hardge's mother, Audry Kelley, feels like she lost her own child. "When somebody just snatches them away from you, you have no control," she says, sitting at the dining room table of her modest home in a neatly maintained DeSoto neighborhood. "It hurts to know that ... " she pauses, smacking her lips as tears form in her eyes. "What can I do? I can't do nothing. I can't make them let him go." She talks to Hardge often on the phone but rarely visits him in jail because that means leaving him behind.

"Guns don't have no name. Bullets don't have no name," she used to tell him years ago as a warning against random killings. When her son was initially arrested for murder, Kelley fell to her knees praying "not to let my child be the reason someone else's child died."

"We're burying kids left and right," she says. On the day of Hardge's arrest, she remembers him saying he felt a sense of relief that he could begin paying for a crime that she sensed weighed heavily on him. Her own heart felt like it was "suffocating."

"All I know is he does feel better knowing he don't kill nobody," she says, grasping at the medical examiner's non-conclusive testimony for reassurance. "He's still my baby. He's still a child — he's still my child. But in the eyes of the law, he's a grown man now."


« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
149 comments
ricksmiff
ricksmiff

I had children young,five by 28,and used every drug  I could find,yet I made sure my children were well educated and stayed away from dir mom and raise thems determined to stay with their mom and raise them,this piece of shit deserved life for pointing a deadly weapon at a group of people.When we were running the streets we fought with fists.These punks today are the worst cowards.

Shawty2829
Shawty2829

Its sad that you get all these young children being shot and killed. And its sad that kids are, illing kids. I feel bad for the parents of that 15 year old innocent girl that lost her life. Didn't eve get to have a chance to finish growning up, finishing school,going off to college and makeing something of herself and mabe having a family someday. And I feel bad 4 the parents for haveing to barry her and wakeing up everyday not being able to see, or hug, and tell their daughter they love her. Its all sad to me!.

Angel_fierro87
Angel_fierro87

Are we talking about america? What's america founded on? Innocent until PROOVEN guilty, he was not prooven guilty, he was offered a plea deal and was spooked, so he compromised out of fear. If you wanna talk about this is is "america", then you contradict yourself, because nobody can"proove" that his bullet killed her.

Girlfrom609
Girlfrom609

I'm basically tired of looking at this all the time. There's a 15 year old resting in a grave. The only thing she did was go out with some friends. Since when did enjoying a night out become a death warrant?

LashaunJefferson
LashaunJefferson

Just saw this on First48, when are these black men going to get it? TV isn't making them look bad, they are making themselves look bad. They make it hard for every black man out there handling their business, staying out of trouble, and coming home to ONE wife and kids.

ConnieSheldon
ConnieSheldon

Tattoos all on his face, looks like a duck to me. Murderer, I meant quack!

Harrywinter
Harrywinter

People make me laugh. First talking about how the cops did not prove it was his bullet that killed the girl. Whether or not it was his bullet is so small. He fired an assault rifle blindly into a crowd. Again I say, this man was walking around with an assault rifle. He's not serving in the military abroad, he's walking the streets of American with an assault rifle. That in itself is wrong. Next he's a drug dealer who gets into fights with this child's mother. He has tattoos all over his face and last but not least takes no responsibility that a family had to bury their 15 year old daughter. I notice how people are so quick to say "He's innocent" until it's their 15 year old relative laying on a concrete with a bullet wound through the lung. Then it becomes "Oh' he's a monster, lock him up for life!"

Sunshyne11511
Sunshyne11511

HE IZ A INNOCENT PERSON JUST LYK THE 15 YEAR OLD GIRL.. JUST LYK HE SAID ON THE SHOW GET THE FORENSIC REPORT N THAT WILL PROVE IT... YOU CANT JUST SAY HIM OUT OF ALL THE GUNS THAT WERE SHOT (INCLUDING THE .380) THAT IT WAS HIS THAT KILLED HER!! POLICE NEVER EVEN FOUND THE BULLET THAT LEFT HER BODY SO THEY REALLY HAVE NO REAL LEGITIMATE EVIDENCE 2 LINK HIM2 THA MURDER AND FOR HIM 2 B N JAIL... OKA SO HE A GANG MEMBER SO WHAT PEOPLE ACT LIKE YOU BORN2 NO BETTER...HE WAS YOUNG JOINED A GANG SO WHAT! IT HAPPENED. PEOPLE ACTING LYK THE POLICE ARE ALWAYZ RIGHT WHEN THEY'RE NOT. EVERY ONE MAKES MISTAKES N THEY ARE NO EXCEPTIONS!! HER DEATH WASN'T INTENTIONALLY ON NO ONES PART AND ITZ SAD2 SAY NO REAL MURDERER WILL B CAUGHT FOR THIS...

4ThWardGA
4ThWardGA

He's an idiot TATTOOS on his face his mother is a grown hood rat I don't feel sorry for him at all a 15 year old innocent bystander DIED and this idiot quoted from his mouth on 1st48 he will still be the man when he comes home WRONG you will be a 38 year old ex con all your gang buddies will be dead and in jail who's gonna remember you are the man NOBODY his mother should be ashamed look what sh raised a thug look at what he did daily you are a terrible mother

Tiffanynichols
Tiffanynichols

Just sad! Where are the parents of these so called gang bangers? Grow the fuck up, get an education, & leave that dumb ass life style alone. PLEASE!!!!

Rakkenaten
Rakkenaten

Don need to shut up and learn to play the game. Them white folks is luring him into saying all kinds of stuff. They tricked him into open pleaing. If he had went to trial he may have been aquited because they can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt.The homicide detective is still trying to see if they can someday put him on trial for murder. What they are going to do is make up some shit and Don's dumbass gone fall for it and he will never get out.You have young dumb uneducated niggas vs educated seasoned vets. Who you think is going to win the war?

Hoovaway52
Hoovaway52

We wasn't there so we don't know what hapnd. I seen it on first 48. They ain't prove it wuz his bullet that went thru her.

Inshock
Inshock

I just watched the show on A&E. As I sit here and read his mother's responses, I see she is still not holding her son accountable for his actions. He had a AK-47 and was shooting into a crowd of people. We are thankful that more people were not a victim of his stupidity.

Nbmdude
Nbmdude

Keep that animal locked up til he dies...I HATE the thought of supporting this animal while he's locked up...maybe the world will get lucky and he'll die in there soon.

Weisser Hai
Weisser Hai

NEW & RELOADED(you will wish for never ever watching TV again !!!)

YES , WE CAN..YES , WE CAN..WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive from Afghanistan...thank you lord..aamen).

ARIZONA = UTOYA = GOVERNMENT‘S "AFTERLIFE" FLASH MOB !!!

911(TWIN TOWERS) = NORWAY BOMBING OR STATE SPONSORED TERRORISM !!!

STOLTENBERG = BREIVIK !! MULTYCULTURALISM = TERRORISM !!

As far as shooting, there was none(neither in NORWAY or Arizona). Instead tear gas and theater were used on faces of multiculturalism maniacs while calling YOU a terrorists !!! Guilt or blame and shame weapon against us and our families in our own countries during bogus “economic crises” while importing here non white third world foreigners to rape, kill and steal(what forceful unemployment against us is = robbery) in the name of tolerance and better world !! SUPER FAST HIGHWAY to extra bonuses with early retirements(newly issued state identities with paid properties abroad) for government related criminals/ terrorists or our politicians and their supporters !!! VISIT ALL NEW(reloaded) “OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION” http://stateofterror.blogspot.... http://stateofterror.wordpress... LEARN WHO RUINED YOU, WHY, AND HOW !!! FROM 911 TO WHITE REFUGEES SEEKING ASYLUM ABROAD TODAY

Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ..YESSS, WE CAN(FISH CAN & TENT CITY USA CAN)...GABBY OPENED HER EYES (psycho Tucson)

OS(B)AMA IS MOVING OUT OF AFGHAN FEW DAYS AFTER MY POSTING ONLINE AND IS WILLING TO IMPROVE ECONOMY(genocide against whites) JUST FEW MONTHS AHEAD OF ELECTIONS(awesome) !!

Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved lots of Dollars in your DEBT DEALS(DEAD & ILL) as those America best (Navy Seals) would also grew older and then you already know how it goes !!!

WAKE-UP !!! WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT GETS ALL TO LATE ON PLANET APE !!! TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !! STOP THE GOVERNMENT TERRORISM AND TERROR AGAINST WHITES WORLDWIDE IN THE NAME OF MULTYCULTURALISM OR NWO !! MULTYCULTURALISM = TERRORISM !!

bb
bb

Yes, you are a killer. You are one of the worst kind of killers. You are reckless, indiscriminate, ignorant and without conscience. You are a sociopath and now you are responsible for killing an innocent girl. You should go to jail for a long time, if for no other reason to minimize your chances of procreating, again. Dallas, and your daughter, or a lot better off with you behind bars.

Sharkondryland
Sharkondryland

big dummy you came from shit and you are shit plus you and your crew are cowards anybody can shoot a gun so if you did or didnt kill this young lady this is the best way to get rid of your no good ass.the owners of these clubs should be sued knowing good and well that when you put thugs out they show out always looking for attention all those tattoos shows the weakness of these cowards.thugs are like a pack of cowards that only talk shit when there with each other you bitches make me sick

Deathtothugs
Deathtothugs

Anyone with tattoos on their face should be arrested and harassed for being a dumbass piece of fecal matter

Ian Smith
Ian Smith

Do the naive white libtard "journalists" at the Dallas Observer actually expect their naive white kumbaya pollyanna libtard readers to sympathize with a gang-banging, drug-dealing, violent idiot nigger? Wow!

Aaron
Aaron

I have a dream one day where everyone can fire a gun into a crowd and be innocent of anyone who dies as a result.

Mary
Mary

What a joke!! Glorifying him in anyway is rediculous... He is the one who shot the gun. If he intentionally killed the girl or not, she is dead. Stop making his life seem so important! He chose to live a life of crime now he needs to be treated as such! This article seems so sypathetic to him and the actions he took. He was a drug addict, he was a gang member, he was the shooter. He made the choice he did. And dont give me the line that this is the life he had to leave. There are plenty of places is DFW he could have relocated to be a better person and live a normal life. Why not try getting a real job and having some dignity and pride even if it doesnt make him the money was making. To late now since he KILLED someone!

Bounty Collector
Bounty Collector

It should be declared open season on him and every other gang-banger. Put a bounty on their heads and let the streets clear themselves.

Gpr18rc
Gpr18rc

why is still on yahoo ,there is more and better stories than this .This story is so lame and out of touch with reality !!!!! Get real let him go and he will boast about killing and being a gangster he might want to be rapper then get shot doing it !!!!

noneyo
noneyo

Thug! I swear to you I am not racist. (I am white) But people like him anger and frighten me. They wonder why people are racist and tend to pidgeonhole all blacks into his category. You give honest, hard working decent black folk a bad reputation. You are the reason blacks are looked down upon by whites. We don't trust you. Every black man I see walking down the street with his pants halfway down his ass and your cap propped sideways....I see a thug, regardless of what kind of person they may really be. Tsk tsk. You say you had no choice but crime. You say you wish you knew a better way. ASS!! All you had to do was open your eyes and look. Many many many black folk have pulled themselves out of your situation. YOU CHOSE NOT TO!!!! Not a baiter....will not come back here to look for replies. Just sayin what alot of white people are too PC to say.

Stealth999
Stealth999

Another innocent, framed black man- how racist

JackLean
JackLean

Makes me thankful for my ordinary family and the ordinary problems that we face. I can't imagine living a life like Hardge and I would never want to lose whatever grasp I have, tenuous though it might be, that protects my family from such despair. It reminds me of the neverending cycle of abused child to adult abuser and the courage it takes to break that cycle.

pip
pip

How would he feel if a gang member did that to his own daughter? Young men are so foolish. Often they learn too late what's truly important in life. I pray this young man accepts and confesses to what he's done and really changes his life. Talk is not enough. Falling back on the old ways is not an option. Real men move forward and do what's best for their families.

Bigpapi1414
Bigpapi1414

of course he aint no killer hes a p---e of shit same color too

Flakfan
Flakfan

He is typical of his kind and making more just like him with women he will not even marry. He'd never be a father to his children nor set any example for them to follow. He followed his father's footsteps just like all his family followed similar paths. Yet they keep on making more babies to grow up just like them and be parasites on society. He is showing his true color. Pun intended.

nortexhustla
nortexhustla

What You Call One Stupid Ni66er! Forgive me but True

Dmann342001
Dmann342001

hardge made the chioce to be just like his father......to push poison to all others in the neighbohood, to make drug addicts of all those around him, so he could get out of working for a living....lazy nig......he could have helped his neighborhood, but no!......he wanted to be G-money instead.. lock him up, throw away the key

RJ
RJ

~ Dung Dung is more like it" he can rot in jail ~ on his way to hail ~

Et Tu Brutus
Et Tu Brutus

Another product of DISD. The Dallas DA will soon be working hard to free this poor unfortunate soul.

Mark D.
Mark D.

Don Hardge is right where he belongs.Now an Innnocent family has to suffer the rest of there life because of his stupidity.The streets are safer,now that he,s not out there.I wonder how many drivebys he did and got away with it.Thats why I keep a gun at home incase people like him try to break in and rob me.

Sad
Sad

Wonderful writing. Tragic story.

TheOldHand
TheOldHand

The girl sounded like she had some hopes and dreams for a better life. What in the world was she doing at a thug party?

 Blutto
Blutto

What did he intend to do with an automatic rifle at a party? Defend himself? A personal choice. But the best way is not to go to the party. Oh, but it's his lifestyle. Another personal choice. Selling and using drugs instead of getting educated and working in a real job. Another personal choice. Was he planning on firing a warning shot into the air? No? Personal choice. What if part of his sentence is that he has to start over. Means when he's released (if ever) he has to go to a school and get educated. Then he has to find a full time job. Can't get married, can't have a girl friend. Educated and tested to state requirements.

BB
BB

Did he ever here about "get a job" I'll bet we taxpayers give him a weekly paycheck besides.

iswaterwet.ms96
iswaterwet.ms96

@Sunshyne11511 I TOTALY,FULLY.AGREE WITH YOU,IN MANY CASES GOD IS THE JUDGE OF ALL JUDGES...

Hoovaway52
Hoovaway52

you probably be tha first to get murkd.

4ThWardGA
4ThWardGA

I'm black trust me we are not all like this some wear hats cocked but that's just a style but if someone has tatts on the face you are right to think what you have thought they shoulda gave him longer peice of shit

Alex H
Alex H

People fear what they don't identify with. Yes he's scum, but every black with sagging pants isn't. They are just following a fashion trend. Do I (as a black man) sag my pants, agree with it, or let my 12 year old sag? No. absolutely not. But my son want's to let them sag a little because that's the style. I don't want my son stereotped even though he's a straight "A" student. Saying that, I grew up in Oak Cliff, know drug dealers, and people that may have a killing on their conscience, and yes I chose to steer clear, but only because of my upbringing. I have a mom that stays there to this day, actually next door to the former drug house, but these guys respect her because she demands it. I'm in no way condoning what this misguided boy did, but don't think the door doesn't swing both ways. "Noneyo" said that these type of people are why they are scared of or the reason for their racism...... Really? Racism is mostly inherited or taught. You rarely just develop or turn racist without a personal experience. These guys, though twisted, at least are in the open and you know what to expect from them. I've been around the crimal element alot and most of the worst I've seen are actually white. I know of bikers that shoot at people and run drugs on a regular, I know of white collar looking white guys who's parents are alumni of Texas, SMU, BYU, and Auburn and they sell more drugs in DFW than CVS. Am I racist? No.... Do I suspect all bikers are racist, womanizing, drug running, tattooed, anti government, individuals? No I don't. I judge everyone on a case by case basis. I know people of all races here in Dallas that do dirt, but I don't suspect or expect every black, mexican, or white with a couple of tats to be corrupt. I agree that this guy isn't remoreful about the young lady that was murdered. Maybe he honestly doesn't believe he killed her personally. His actions , along with the supposed other shooter did cause her death. That's not a knock on the entire area or race though. Blame just him.

Ian Smith
Ian Smith

niggerloving naive white libtard

Ian Smith
Ian Smith

Eat shit and die, niggerloving libtard.

Alex H
Alex H

Unfortunately, the parties all have a chance to turn into a thug party. Regular looking kids nowadays try to adopt the look n lifestyle of a thug or baller and it's not until they're confronted by the true horrors of a person with no conscience do they realize the situation they are in. It took only one or two at this party to tarnish the reputation of a club, area, race, and reputation or judgement of 100 other kids.

Et Tu Brutus
Et Tu Brutus

The Dallas Morning News will never report this side of a story.

4ThWardGA
4ThWardGA

Go share a jail cell with him you fake motherfucker a girl died you IDIOT fuck Dun Dun and DFW come to Atlanta with that fake gang shit

 
Loading...