Mother, father of two dead after day care parking lot shooting

Records uncover day care shooting suspect's escalating violent behavior
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
Police have blocked off the area around Ridgewood Park Road. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
Police have blocked off the area around Ridgewood Park Road. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
Tasha, a mother of two, said to be in her early 30s, was pronounced dead on the scene. (Photo Source: Facebook)
Tasha, a mother of two, said to be in her early 30s, was pronounced dead on the scene. (Photo Source: Facebook)
(Photo Source: Shelby County Sheriff's Office)
(Photo Source: Shelby County Sheriff's Office)

(WMC) - A Memphis mother of two was shot and killed by her estranged husband outside a Whitehaven day care center Tuesday morning.

Three gunshots were fired from the parking lot of University of Little Scholars Learning Center on East Raines Road around 8:30 a.m., according to police. 

Tasha Thomas, said to be in her early 30s, was pronounced dead when crews arrived to the day care parking lot.

Investigators say Charles Thomas left the crime scene and locked himself in his home.

Charles' pastor and Memphis Police Department Director Toney Armstrong tried to negotiate a peaceful end.

"We made contact with the suspect and after numerous failed attempts the suspect eventually exited the house onto the front porch and shot himself," Armstrong said.

Several children were picked up from the day care center Tuesday morning. One grandmother said that parents were notified about the shooting immediately and that all of the children were safe.

"I thought someone had come to the inside and started shooting, so that's, you know, what made me get kind of worried, you know?" said Mamie Brooks, whose grandson goes to the day care. "And when they said it was a shooting here [in the parking lot], so that was just terrifying."

Investigated as domestic violence

Tasha's family says she feared for her life. Her aunt, Jacqueline Jones, says her niece recently filed for divorce and attempted to leave the relationship several times.

"When they put their hands on you that first time, you need to listen. You need to understand that it's not going to get better, and inevitably if you try to break away, they are going to take you out and that's what happened to my niece. My niece has been trying to get away for the longest," Jones said.

Tasha filed a restraining order against Charles. Records show that Thomas began showing up at different locations where he knew his wife would be, including her church.

"My niece been trying to get away for the longest, but also she must have loved him immensely because she went back several times," Jones added. "She's got two beautiful children, and now we're trying to figure out how to tell them."

Jones says her niece had been married to her Charles just over four years. 

"She said, 'I don't want this any more. I don't want to be in this relationship anymore. I don't want to take this abuse any more,' and then she loses her life."

Tasha's family is devastated.

"It's beyond belief, we cannot believe that you get a phone call and the first thing you hear is that such a beautiful angel has been shot or taken away just because she said I don't want this anymore," Jones explained.

Armstrong said the couple's two children will need the entire community's support.

"We need to keep the family in our prayers. We understand that there are two small children left behind. From this point, from this day, they both lost both of their parents," Armstrong said.

Family and friends mourn

Charles' friends and family say he has been struggling since he learned he wouldn't be getting to spend as much time with his two daughters, who are 7 and 11 years old.

His family wants him to be remembered, not as a monster, but as a real person with real emotions, who had been going through a lot.  

"We all just wish we could have gotten to him, so he could have known that we were here for him long before now," said Charles' friend, Clark Chambers. "Because now, you know, it is what it is."

According to police, before Charles shot himself, he changed his Facebook profile picture to a photo of himself and his wife. He did so while he was barricaded inside his house.

"Sad. I'm very sad it had to end this way," neighbor Mattye Young agreed.

Friends from the motorcycle club Charles belonged to remained on the scene all day.

"It's sad. It hurts," said his friend, Marcus Belton.

Chambers added, "I'm broken hearted. And all these folks and loved ones that you see standing back in the back. It's a sad situation."

MPD responded to several domestic incidents involving the Charles and Tasha Thomas before Tuesday. 

Regardless, his friends and family describe him as a great guy who loved his kids and his motorcycle club.

Records uncover husband's escalating violent behavior

In February, Thomas said her husband struck her in the face and hit her repeatedly, after they were joking about another family member's marital issues. On August 20, Thomas walked into the East Raines police precinct and said she noticed her "estranged husband" was following her.

It all escalated August 23, when Charles crashed a baby shower inside Abundant Fellowship Church. He paced up the aisles and yelled at Tasha.

Investigators say Thomas rode away on his motorcycle. He was arrested Aug. 25 on a $15,000 bond.

"He was brought down here [201 Poplar], he was given a bond, and was able to get together the resources to make that bond," Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said.

Charles was free on bond when he committed Tuesday's violence. Click here to read WMC Action News 5's full report on Charles's records.

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