Friends, coworkers honor slain music teacher’s spirit of giving

Friends, coworkers honor slain music teacher’s spirit of giving

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It was the homicide that broke the record books.

The murder of a beloved Shelby County Schools music teacher officially made 2016 the deadliest year in Memphis' history.

But friends of Christopher Waters refuse to allow him to be remembered as just a number.

Two years later, justice still hasn't been served in the murder of Christopher Waters. An actual trial will likely not come before summer of next year.

Old coworkers of the former music teacher found a way to honor him by combining two things that he loved: his former students and Christmas.

While some people cringe at the task of wrapping gifts, Rebecca Holliman actually loves it.

These gifts hold a special place in her heart and all the employees at Amro Music.

It's in honor of a former co-worker who once loved this time of the year.

“So festive, so festive that it made you sick sometimes,” Holliman said.

Waters, a classically trained violinist, worked at the music store part-time for several years.

“His playing reflected his personality, again it was just fill the space with happiness,” said Nick Averwater at Amro Music.

Averwater remembers the moment the music stopped two years ago on December 9.

Waters was shot and killed inside his own home in Raleigh in an armed robbery gone terribly wrong.

Memphis police have since charged six men in connected with his murder.

Investigators say the suspects took the 30-year-old's life for electronics, his wallet, alcohol and his 2015 orange Ford Mustang.

Police say two even returned to the home to steal more items.

“They didn't just take his life,” said Jatori Little, who works at Belle Forest Community School. “They took him away from the kids.”

Belle Forest Community School is where Water's worked full-time as the string instructor.

“He would stand out in the hallways sometime and play his violin as students were transitioning so if he was playing one note it was going to be the most energy you ever heard from one note,” said music teacher Antwan Gardner.

Gardner worked alongside Waters as the piano and guitar instructor at Belle Forrest. He says Waters’ larger than life personality made him a favorite among the students.

“You would hear him on the microphone in the morning announcements singing a Christmas song, so this was a really enjoyable time of the year for him,” Gardner said.

Christmas was always special for Waters. It's why he founded and served as the coordinator of the Angel Tree program at his school, making sure every child loved Christmas as much as he did.

HIs former co-workers decided that’s how they would honor their former co-worker and friend. Days after Water’s death in 2016 they raised thousands of dollars on a GoFundMe account.

Christopher Waters and his coworkers with the Angel Tree (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Christopher Waters and his coworkers with the Angel Tree (Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

For a second year in a row, they're still granting wishes for students at the school.

“And so we felt like this was a great way to remember him and continue his legacy in bringing joy during the Christmas holiday,” Averwater said.

This is something they are committed to, and so is the entire community.

Churches, non-profits and corporations are also donating to the Angel Tree program at Belle Forest so 20 children at that school will be able to get exactly what they want for Christmas.

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