Bryan police on Monday were investigating the death of a 26-year-old father of three found dead in a car at Sadie Thomas Park, an apparent victim of a gunshot wound to the head.
A police sergeant found Terrence Charles Leggett, known to his family as Chuckie, just after 4 a.m. Monday while investigating a car parked at Sadie Thomas after curfew, police spokesman Walt Melnyk said, adding that people aren’t allowed at city parks between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Leggett was sitting in the driver’s seat of a 2000 Dodge Intrepid and appeared to have been shot in the right side of the head with a small-caliber gun, Melnyk said.
The body was sent to the Southeast Texas Forensics Center in Conroe for autopsy. A preliminary report should be returned this week, officials said.
No suspects had been identified late Monday, police said.
Leggett was last seen at 7 p.m. Saturday at his parent’s home on North Avenue in Bryan. His father, Charles Leggett, reported him missing the following day, according to police reports.
The sergeant who found his body was performing a routine curfew check at the park. The nearly 30 city parks are closed overnight to cut down on drug dealing and dog fighting, crimes most frequently reported a few years ago at Sadie Thomas off Moss Street and Scurry Park off Madison Street.
Melnyk said the sergeant decided to investigate after spotting the car, which police said belonged to one of Leggett’s family members.
Grief-stricken Eula Mae Leggett sat outside the family home Monday afternoon, sharing memories of her oldest son with a handful of friends and relatives gathered at her side.
“He was a man that loved his family. A man that knew God,” she said. “Those were his strong points right there.”
Terrence Leggett was a contract laborer who sometimes drove 18-wheelers and worked in the oil fields, his mother said. When he wasn’t working, he loved to play basketball with his three sons — ages 8, 6 and 2 — and enjoyed fishing with his father, friends and family recalled.
And he would have done anything for his seven brothers and sisters, his mother said.
“We’re doing OK with God’s help,” his mother said. “We’re just holding on to Jesus.”
The Leggett family would not discuss the murder investigation or circumstances surrounding his death.
It had been just 16 months since Leggett was released from prison. In May 2002, he was sentenced to four years for possession of a controlled substance. He was incarcerated for about 17 months before being placed on mandatory supervision in October 2003.
In 2001, Leggett pleaded guilty to a charge of deadly conduct for his role in an October 2000 shooting of a 22-month-old in an apartment on Woodville Road.
The shooting occurred at a complex where a fight between Leggett and two other men escalated, police said. A stray shot from a small-caliber handgun went through a nearby apartment wall and struck the toddler in the buttocks.
Leggett was sentenced to seven years deferred adjudication for his role in that incident.
Monday’s violent crime came as a shock to residents living in the neighborhood — a one-time problematic area that had cleaned up and was considered by many to be a safer place to live in recent years.
The park was fairly quiet Monday afternoon as a few children climbed on playground equipment not far from an empty parking lot where hours earlier police scoured the grounds.
“It kind of spooked me a little bit,” one resident said of the crime she learned about as she left for work Monday morning.
The woman, who declined to give her name, said she suspected someone was dead as soon as she saw police putting up crime scene tape around the park. It wasn’t that long ago, she said, that the park was a hotspot for the criminal element with fighting, dealing drugs and large crowds drinking, she said.
But recently, she said, the problems faded due to a strong police presence. That made the reality of Monday’s slaying even more disturbing, she said.
Just a few houses down, Tiffany Dennis stood outside the home in which she has lived for the past seven years and chatted with her neighbor about the crime.
The 29-year-old mother of three said she worries about her children playing outside but only because of the speeding traffic on Moss Street. She said she never was scared to let them wander across the street to the park.
But that now may change.
“I guess it just depends on if he actually got killed there,” Dennis said Monday, while standing in her driveway. “That would make me feel a little different about my kids going to the park.”