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.

Sitting behind the smudged glass of a stark visitors' room at the Dallas County jail and holding a phone that had been breathed on by countless murderers, Hardge says he's "100 percent sure" his bullet didn't kill Payne. "I'm sorry somebody got hurt. ... I feel for her family," he says, his lip turning up slightly as it tends to do when he's either gravely serious or on the verge of tears.

"I wasn't just out to kill nobody," he says of his plans that night. He believes that Payne either ran across the street after being shot while standing behind him or she was shot after he fled. He would have seen her running, he believes. She died only a couple hundred yards in front of where he was standing.

Hardge is convinced Payne was killed by the shooter on the other side of the median, the shooter whose existence Quirk found no evidence to support. Quirk calls both of Hardge's theories impossible based on witness testimony and crime-scene analysis. Though Hardge said in court that the darkness rendered the group with the gun unrecognizable, from jail he claims they were a rival gang and he recognized the shooter. He just didn't want to tell police.

"It's like when you're in the streets, you don't give that type of information," he says. "It's the code that I live by." Snitching couldn't help anyone now, he says. "I need to worry about myself and my daughter."

Certain ideals become deeply seated when you live the gang lifestyle for so long. But now, Hardge says, he's over gang life and no longer identifies with DFW Mafia or any other gang. He wants his tattoos lasered off. Resting his elbows on the counter behind the jail's glass barrier, he talks frankly and soberly as though he believes every word he says with absolute conviction. When he first landed in jail, his old crew made sure he had money and that he was all right. But the longer Hardge remained behind bars, the less he heard from the gang. His old lifestyle may have continued if they hadn't become disloyal, even though he says his gang banging had been slowing down since his daughter was born in March 2008.

In Hardge's circles, "slowing down" is a relative term. "There's a lot of stuff going on here in Dallas, Texas," he says, and drugs and weapons "ain't nothing." He says he stopped fighting and raising hell just to keep from getting bored, save for the crackhead episode his friend instigated outside his complex. He was young then, but he is a dad now.

Walking through that July day three years ago and tracing the course of his life since then, Hardge wipes his eyes only when he talks about his little girl. In all likelihood, he won't see her until she's about the same age Payne was when she was killed. "Selling dope, stuff like that, I wish I knew how to do something better," he says. With plans of earning his GED in prison and learning to be a truck mechanic or a barber, he's over his old life, for now. But if he couldn't get a job or if he had a barber business that tanked, there would always be the draw of the quick $800-$1,500 he could make in a few days of peddling drugs. "I can't lie to myself," he says, unable to deny that he would consider going back to dealing.

For now, he's periodically cutting hair in prison. His cousin is a barber, so he's familiar with the trade. Jail rules keep him from using the clippers, but he can get a razor for about a dollar, and that plus a comb has won him around 100 locked-up clients, he estimates.

Hardge talks openly about his life because he feels he's been made into an example by the prosecution and might as well make himself an example — he made a series of the worst decisions a teenager can make and thinks everyone should know his story did not work out well.

He's truly following in his father's footsteps now, and that sort of life has lost its appeal.

"This is for the birds. This is for animals," he says of his life behind bars, where he gets a change of clothes and two pairs of boxers every five days. He's due for transfer to state prison any day.


"I'm disappointed," Detective Quirk says. "I know he killed Juanita. The prosecution knows he killed Juanita. He knows he killed Juanita. But knowing it and proving it in Dallas County beyond a reasonable doubt under these circumstances is tough."

Weeks after Hardge's sentencing, Quirk tracked down Payne's father to update him, finding Thomas through his job at a commercial printing company where he works the presses. The Observer tagged along as Quirk paid his visit. Standing in the same haphazardly furnished garage where the family tries to keep cool in the summer heat, Quirk tells Thomas that Hardge had been sentenced to 16 years, not for murder, but for engagement in organized criminal activity.

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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

 
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