‘They took my heart away from me’
Mom laments shooting death of Homestead man
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.”
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.
During a 2017 interview, Tre-Quan Embry, then 21, shares his concerns about his cousin, who had been shot days before.