Three men have been charged with wanton endangerment in connection with the shooting death of Olympian Tyson Gay’s 15-year-old daughter who was hit in the neck during an exchange of gunfire between cars, police said.
Dvonta Middlebrooks was charged with wanton endangerment and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was in the parking lot of Cook Out restaurant and fired multiple shots, according to his arrest citation.
Chazerae M. Taylor, 38, and D’markeo C. Taylor, 19, were also charged with wanton endangerment in connection to the case, police said. The two are father and son.
The shooting was reported about 4 a.m. Sunday, and Trinity Gay died at 4:41 a.m. at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.
Another man who was questioned by police after the shooting has not been charged, police said.
Trinity’s family said she was an innocent bystander hanging out with friends when she was shot outside the restaurant on South Broadway.
“She was a beautiful person, very outgoing, athletic, always wanting to accomplish something,” said Debra Conley, Trinity’s grandmother. “She even said that since her father wasn’t able to win his gold medal that she would win it for him.”
Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay arrived in Lexington on the earliest flight that he could at about 1 p.m., Conley said.
Trinity was a giving person who was friends with everyone, worked with charities and was an all “A” student, Conley said. She wanted to go to college and become a plastic surgeon.
“She was just a normal teenage child who had lots of aspirations for the future,” Conley said. “She loved her family, believed in having fun and was always laughing.”
Trinity was a top sprinter for Lafayette High School, where Tyson Gay, a Lexington native, also attended. Trinity and Gay’s families received numerous condolences and expressions of sympathy on social media throughout Sunday from the Olympic and sports worlds, the community and her friends. In addition, Trinity’s friends turned to social media with grief over her loss.
Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett tweeted that he was “shocked to hear of death of Trinity Gay. A life of such potential cut so tragically short. Sympathies to Tyson and entire family."
Tyson Gay told WLEX-18, “She didn’t make it. I’m so confused. She was just here last week for fall break. It’s so crazy. I have no idea what happened.”
Her mother, Shoshana Boyd told the New York Daily News, “She was so innocent. She was so innocent. I just want people to stop shooting and realize who they’re hurting. It’s just random. They don’t understand. They don’t understand who they’re hurting.”
Police have not disclosed a motive for the shooting. Witnesses reported the exchange of gunfire between a gray Dodge Charger and a dark-colored sports car with tinted windows, police said. Police found the Dodge Charger quickly and a blue Ford passenger car was later located.
Trinity was not in either suspected vehicle, and the personal vehicle that initially took her to hospital was not involved in the shooting, said Brenna Angel, a spokeswoman for Lexington police. Trinity was transferred to UK Hospital.
More than 12 hours later, police announced the charges against Middlebrooks, who has been under mandatory reentry supervision after serving a sentence for convictions of fleeing and evading police, possession of cocaine and trafficking cocaine, according to the Department of Corrections website. His supervision was scheduled to end in 2019.
The restaurant is at 855 South Broadway, not far from the UK campus. The restaurant has extended hours, closing at 5 a.m. Sunday, according to the business’ website.
At around 2 a.m., Trinity Gay made a reference to Cook Out on her Twitter account, and also Tweeted “Of course they start shootin.”
Several hours after the shooting, restaurant workers said they were not allowed to comment. Shots were reportedly fired in the restaurant’s parking lot previously since it opened in 2014. No one was injured in one such incident in March 2015.
Sunday afternoon, Mayor Jim Gray urged that “anyone who can provide help to police, please step forward.”
“Tragedies like this require us to pull together as a caring community and we are doing that,” the mayor said.
Trinity Gay followed in her father’s footsteps on the track. He was a Lafayette standout who went on to three summer Olympics. She ran for Scott County High School as a seventh-grader before she moved to Lafayette in Lexington.
She was a sophomore and member of the track-and-field team. She was among the top sprinters in her class among Kentucky high school students. She ran fourth in last year’s girls’ 100-meter dash state championship.
Trinity was remembered as bubbly and a good student by her Lafayette coach Crystal Washington. Trinity’s teammates had been contacting their coach all morning.
“The kids were really close with her,” Washington said.
Her talents on the track were undeniable, but she was still growing.
“Being the rising star that she was, we hadn’t seen her best yet,” said Chris Hawboldt, editor of MileSplit Kentucky and the former head coach at Tates Creek. “She was sweet and obviously a quality athlete, but more importantly she was good for the track-and-field community in Lexington.”
Being the daughter of Tyson Gay produced a lot of pressure before Trinity ever stepped foot on a track, Bryan Station Coach Kathy Broadnax said. Broadnax never got to coach Trinity, but enjoyed watching her make her own impression on the Lexington track scene.
“The way that she handled herself and the way she stood out as her own person, that was probably the most admirable thing about her,” Broadnax said. “She was his daughter but she left her own mark on track from a very young age. She was up there as seventh and eighth grader competing against seniors in high school. I think anyone in the track community looked at that like ‘Wow, she has that blood. She’s going to be a phenomenal athlete if she just continues to work and put in what she needs to on the track.’”
“Our hearts are broken this morning over the loss of Trinity to this tragic and senseless act of violence,” Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk said in a statement. “Please join us in keeping the Gay family close in thought and prayer and supporting the students, staff, and families at Lafayette High during this unspeakably difficult time.
Lafayette will have a team of counselors on hand for students Monday, spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.
In a statement on Twitter, Lafayette High School Principal Bryne Jacobs said, “We are devastated to lose Trinity. Our Lafayette family will come together to provide love and support for our students and one another during this tragic time.”
Friends and others who knew Trinity grappled with her death by turning to social media. There were many messages to and about her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
They remembered her ability to make people laugh and her talent. Many posted photographs from Trinity’s time as a cheerleader as well as pictures from her prom and adventures out with friends.
Friends also posted about a vigil being planned for 8 p.m. Monday night on the Lafayette High School track field. The posts asked everyone to wear pink and purple to the vigil.