DALLAS - Police are trying to find the person who shot and killed a popular Dallas dance instructor over the weekend.
First responders found 45-year-old Darrell Cleveland shot in his car in Downtown Dallas over the weekend. He worked with the Ballot Academy of Texas for over a decade.
Loved ones say Darrell was one of a kind: both as a dancer and as a choreographer in DFW.
No one has offered any reason as to why Darrell might be targeted in a shooting. Investigators, themselves, are having a hard time getting tips.
Those who know him say he had an infectious smile as large as his leaps.
Ballet Academy of Texas Director Lisa Slagle says Darrell was captivating as the Russian lead in the Nutcracker, but his calling was choreography.
“I would tease him and say, 'Darrell, you're sweating more than the students are. Who's working harder here?'” she recalled. “And he would say, 'Oh, I just love it. I just, you know, just pushing them.’”
The 45-year-old taught modern and contemporary to students pursuing careers in dance at several studios in DFW.
“He would come up with movements and patterns of movement in his choreography that was so interesting to watch and never boring, never dull,” Slagle said.
Dallas police say just before 3 a.m. on Sunday, a car crashed at the intersection of Ervay and Cadiz in Downtown Dallas. When first responders pulled Darrell out from behind the wheel, they realized he'd been shot.
Darrell’s mother, Patricia, got the call in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.
“He says, 'I got some bad news.' He says, 'Darrell's been shot,’” she recalled. “And it was very devastating. I couldn't believe it.”
Patricia says her son started dancing when he was 2 years old, and that was his real love in life. She says Darrell was a bit of a loner. No one had reason to shoot him.
“He pretty much stayed to himself,” Patricia said. “And he worked, and he worked, and he worked.”
Police say they didn't find any bullet casings in the intersection, so the shooting might have happened elsewhere. No one reported hearing a gunshot. They're counting on the public's help to find the shooter.
“There was an energy and a positivity to Darrell when he came in that's going to be very much missed,” Slagle said.
Investigators say they really do not have much to go off of on this one and are asking anyone with information to please come forward.
Darrell also taught at Contemporary Ballet Dallas. They're planning a dance tribute for him.