Dozens of mourners poured into Fisher Memorial United Holy Church in Durham Monday afternoon for the funeral of Derek Walker, who was shot by a Durham police officer in a dramatic showdown Tuesday.
A fund has been set up for his son. People can give to the Derek Walker Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo branch. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Irenah Jenkins said she met Walker in the ninth grade and had stayed friends with him for years.
"I can't connect Derek to death because he was so full of life," she said. "He was so happy even in the midst of everything."
But the day before he died, she said they communicated and Walker was morose. She said they communicated for about eight minutes before he posted on Facebook about his frustrations over his child custody situation.
"He just kept reiterating, ‘I'm going to kill myself. I swear I am,'" she said.
But, she said, "The last thing that he said to me was that he loved me. To know that is so hard to just accept that that was the last thing that he said to me."
Jenkins said she wanted to coordinate the fund to help Walker's so, who turns 6 next month.
"The fund will not be able to replace those moments that Derek would have had with his son and the moments he would have with his father, but we still want to do what we can for him and support him in the same way that Derek would have wanted to make sure that he was financially taken care of and that his needs and his education were being met," Jenkins said.
Before the funeral, friends had recalled Walker as friendly and cheerful and someone people loved to be around. That portrait was in dramatic contrast to the tortured end of his life, when police swarmed to the Bronze Bull statue on Corcoran Street after Walker brandished a gun around 4:19 p.m.
Durham Police negotiated with him for about an hour when he pointed the gun at officers, which prompted an officer to fire at him.
Walker, 26, died shortly after being transported to an area hospital.
Just a day prior, Walker had taken to his Facebook page saying, "Don't call me and don't talk to me because I'm not responding. I hope I die very soon and a fast death because this world I live in is sorry."
In the post, Walker, who worked at Hanes Funeral Home, painted a bleak picture of a man who had lost custody of his son following a bitter custody battle.
"I can't take [what] my son's mother is putting me through," Walker wrote. "She has filled [my son's] head up with so much false stuff. He has told me I'm a bad father, I'm not a good dad."
Latasha Alston, the mother of his son, told WNCN Friday that she was shocked by what happened and never expected that from Walker.
WNCN obtained court records that show a long history of court involvement in the care of their son, dating back to only months after he was born in the fall of 2007.
Alston said they were last in court Aug. 30.
She said they had an upcoming pretrial conference Oct. 8 on some issues, and she wondered if he received some paperwork on Monday. The notice of the hearing was mailed from the courthouse last Wednesday.
She said someone was claiming their son on taxes and they were trying to get to the bottom of it in the upcoming court date.
She also said Alston was "acting out" at the son's school, telling teachers he was the primary parent of their son.
She said she told him about those issues Thursday of last week.
She said she was stunned by Walker's comments on Facebook.
"I read the most hurtful things ever," she said. "He said I was putting him through this and that. He said I fed my son with all these lies, that he's a bad dad."
But Alston said her son would come back from visits with his dad with a big smile.
"I never had any hatred toward Derek. That's the father of my son," she said.