‘They took my heart away from me’

Mom laments shoot­ing death of Homestead man

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Front Page - By Shelly Brad­bury

Tre-Quan Em­bry didn’t feel safe in Homestead.

He had been shot in the leg there on East 16th Av­enue in 2015, when he was 18. In 2017, his 14-year-old cousin was shot around the corner on East Pink Way; Mr. Em­bry came up on the scene and rec­og­nized his cousin by his shoes — red, white and black Jor­dans.

“It’s scary for me, for real, for real,” he told the Pitts­burgh PostGazette in Novem­ber 2017, speak­ing about his ex­pe­ri­ences for a spe­cial re­port on chil­dren and teenagers im­pacted by gun vi­o­lence.

“I still have to walk around this neigh­bor­hood, look­ing over my back try­ing to make sure I don’t get shot again,” he said then.

He spoke of his baby daugh­ter and younger brothers, and how he hoped they wouldn’t face the things he had faced. He talked about getting a li­cense to carry a gun and about play­ing foot­ball at Steel Val­ley High School, how his daugh­ter’s mother kept him fo­cused on grad­u­at­ing when he wanted to quit.

On Feb. 2, Mr. Em­bry, 22, was killed on Homestead’s East 17th Street, two blocks from the spot where he had been shot pre­vi­ously and a block away from the scene of his cousin’s shoot­ing. He was shot mul­ti­ple times in the head, ac­cord­ing to the Al­legheny County Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner’s Of­fice, and was found ly­ing in the street around 12:40 a.m.

“I just heard pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow — too many to count and too close,” said neigh­bor Joanne By­ers, who lives across the street.

She peeked out an up­stairs win­dow and saw Mr. Em­bry on the ground, alone.

“They took my heart away from me,” his mother, Char­main Lewis, said Wed­nes­day.

Mr. Em­bry was bright, spir­ited and funny, she said. He worked in restau­rants and he trusted peo­ple — too much, she said.

“Who­ever called him out­side that night, he trusted them,” she said. “He’s too kind-hearted, too free-spir­ited. He al­ways felt like he had to look out for oth­ers.”

Ms. Lewis said her son was still find­ing him­self, learn­ing how to be a man and a father. He had talked about mov­ing out of Homestead, she said, but didn’t want to leave his younger sib­lings. His half­brother, 21-year-old Ta­jour Em­bry, was killed in 2015 in Home­wood.

“We didn’t ex­pect this,” Ms. Lewis said. “He didn’t ex­pect this.”

One of Mr. Em­bry’s last posts on so­cial me­dia was a pic­ture of him do­ing his 2year-old daugh­ter’s hair.

“Lord knows i would never be da type to do hair [sic] ... but for dis lil one right here i will learn,” he wrote. “Daddy love you princess.”

His daugh­ter has asked for him but doesn’t know what hap­pened yet, her mother, Pas­sion Brown, said Tues­day. Mr. Em­bry al­ways con­sid­ered his daugh­ter to be his best ac­com­plish­ment, she said. On the day she was born, he spent the day with Ms. Brown, watch­ing over her, ask­ing ques­tions of the doc­tors and tim­ing her con­trac­tions.

“Some­thing that was typ­i­cal of Tre was pro­tect­ing the ones he loved,” she said.

When they started dat­ing, Mr. Em­bry lived with her in McKees Rocks and wanted to en­list in the Navy, she said. That never hap­pened, and they broke up about two years ago, Ms. Brown said, though they stayed close as they raised their daugh­ter. Mr. Em­bry moved back to Homestead af­ter the breakup.

“I started to feel safe,” Mr. Em­bry said in 2017, stand­ing on a porch in Homestead. “I was with my baby’s mom and I was safe for a year, two years. But then we broke up and I came back here.”

He was charged with sim­ple as­sault in 2016, af­ter a 14year-old girl said he wouldn’t stop touch­ing her and then tried to choke her as they stood out­side a store. She punched him in the face, she said, and then he punched her back. He pleaded guilty and re­ceived two years pro­ba­tion, ac­cord­ing to court records. In Jan­uary 2017, Mr. Em­bry was charged with car­ry­ing a gun with­out a li­cense; he pleaded guilty and re­ceived pro­ba­tion for that charge.

“He’s been in trou­ble,” Ms. Lewis said, “But it was mis­de­meanors — he wasn’t a vi­o­lent kid . ... He wasn’t in the streets, he wasn’t a drug dealer, he wasn’t gang­bang­ing.”

The day be­fore Mr. Em­bry died, he mes­saged Ms. Brown and told her he wanted to be­come the man she used to know again, that ear­lier ver­sion of him­self. In an­other of their last con­ver­sa­tions, he spoke of want­ing their daugh­ter to grow up right, with close fam­ily bonds.

“Ba­si­cally what I’m try­ing to say is I want her to have good mem­o­ries with her par­ents in case some­thing bad hap­pens to me,” he wrote. “Not wish­ing dat on me [sic]. I’m just pre­pared for da worst [and] I would re­ally hate know­ing I couldn’t ac­com­plish dat goal.”

Shelly Brad­bury/Post-Gazette

A street­side me­mo­rial marks the spot where Tre-Quan Em­bry, 22, was shot to death Feb. 2 in the 300 block of East 17th Av­enue in Homestead. He was killed two blocks away from the lo­ca­tion he was shot in the leg in 2015.

Ha­ley Nel­son/Post-Gazette

Dur­ing a 2017 in­ter­view, Tre-Quan Em­bry, then 21, shares his con­cerns about his cousin, who had been shot days be­fore.

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