DALLAS - Dallas police need help identifying the man who shot and killed a store clerk in Oak Cliff during a robbery Monday night.
The victim has been identified as 27-year-old Gabrielle Simmons, a mother of six children. She had just started the job at the Dollar General store on Sunnyvale Street a few months ago. She was about to get off work Monday night when a man fatally shot her while robbing the store.
Police hope surveillance video and a $15,000 reward will help get her killer behind bars.
Simmons’ friends are sad and upset over the senseless killing of the soon-to-be-married mother.
Jenin Ferrond is the godmother of Simmons' youngest child, who is just 7 months old.
“When I went into the house, all I saw were people crying. Her fiancé was out of it. What do you say to him? What do you say to the kids?” Ferrond said. “I was just with my goddaughter at 6 that night. They were all waiting for her to come home because she should've been home at 7 or 8 o'clock.”
Simmons just recently started working at the Dollar General and was happy with being able to help provide for her kids.
“She was my own family. To take an innocent young life, it does hurt,” said Veronica Wady, who was one of Simmons’ regular customer. “We always talked, always. And we had literally just left the store before it happened.”
Surveillance video shows the gunman enter the store just after 7 p.m. Police said the black male suspect was wearing a teal baseball cap with a hologram sticker on the lid, had on a dark-colored hoodie, jeans with slash marks down both sides and black sneakers with a thick, white sole.
Investigators said he pointed the gun at Simmons and demanded cash. She immediately complied and put the cash tray in the blue and grey gym bag. The robber shot her and walked out.
“Just to turn around and take her life, it's cruel. It's very cruel,” said Pat Ford, the victim’s friend who also works with Dallas Community Fellowship, a coalition of churches. “It's cruel. It's evil.”
“They're no amount of apologizing in the world that can bring her back, and he is going to have to live with that and that will be his torment for the rest of his life,” Ferrond said. “I hope and I pray that it eats on him little by little, day by day.”
Surveillance footage released Tuesday shows photos of the killer. He was last seen running west from the store, down a side street, possibly with an accomplice who served as a lookout.
Simmons' family live out of state. Friends are rallying around her fiancé, Aris Joseph, who is trying to be strong for his children. Dozens gathered Tuesday night to pray with him and show support.
“Words just really can't explain it, man… What I feel,” Joseph said. “I have a 7-month-old girl. He's 10. I have a 6-year-old, a 7-year-old and the oldest is 11.”
Joseph said he’s overwhelmed by the prospect of raising all six children alone but has been lifted up as much as he can be by friends, family and Dallas Community Fellowship.
"Phones won't stop ringing. Family and friends been around since they heard about it,” he said. “A lot of people came to the house. I never been through anything like this before."
"We're trying to make sure they have plenty of food,” Ford said. “The baby, we need diapers. We need baby food. Just trying to make sure they don't have to worry about finding enough to eat."
Pastor N.C. Chance said the neighborhood has too long been ignored by city hall and has been long wracked by violent crime. Dallas police confirm the same Dollar General has been robbed two other times in the past year. They don't know if the same person is responsible.
"If this doesn't galvanize, if this doesn't wake people up, then what will?” the pastor said. “Now is the time to put up or shut up. We can talk about love all you want. But if you love me, let me see you out here doing something on the streets."
Donations for the family can be dropped off at Ford’s office in the Rosemont at Oak Hollow Apartments (3015 East Ledbetter in Dallas) or Christ Memorial Missionary Baptist Church (539 East Overton in Dallas). The family is still working to set a GoFundMe account.
Oaks Farm Dairy is offering the $10,000 reward for any information that will lead to the killer’s arrest. Crime Stoppers is also offering an additional $5,000 reward. Anyone with information is urged to call Dallas police at 214-671-3647 or Crime Stoppers at 214-373-8477.