Father of Waco man killed in botched robbery seeks closure
The father of a man killed in a 2015 drug robbery gone wrong, is opening up about his son’s death after two people in the case were sentenced to prison this week.
Barry Freeman, of Woodway, said although he feels some justice has been done, he doesn’t feel everyone responsible has been held accountable.
“I’m not going to forget and let it go,” said Freeman.
On Feb. 3, 2015 his son Braeden Freeman, 20, was shot and killed in his Waco apartment during a botched robbery that authorities say was committed by Garret Gage and Keith McClure and orchestrated by Cierra Barber.
Police say Barber drove Gage and McClure to the target apartment in the 1900 block of South 16th Street on the night of the crime.
McClure was the suspect who police first thought fired the shot that killed Freeman, but later said both he and Freeman were struck by shots fired from a rifle by an occupant of the apartment, Freeman’s roommate, who, authorities said, was protecting himself, his property, and the other seven people inside the apartment.
McClure, 19, of Temple, was also struck by the gunfire and later died.
Originally charged with capital murder, Gage and Barber’s charges were reduced to aggravated robbery in exchange for guilty pleas.
On Tuesday, they both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison, Gage to 30 years, Barber to 40 years.
While Freeman was happy with the outcome, he said he wasn't at peace because he still didn’t know the full story about what happened that night, and his son would want him to seek the truth.
"If I was just to be able to get the last few moments of what really happened, and whether it was an accident or it was on purpose, then I could find the forgiveness in my heart because I want to go to heaven to live with my son,” he said.
“I want the facts, I want the bottom line truth even it would have brought out more things that would have hurt me about my son.”
Waco police officials said the case was now closed.
“Unfortunately these types of cases can be very emotional for the family involved,” said Sgt. Patrick Swanton, Public Information Officer for the Waco Police Department.
“The case was prepared and sent to the district attorney who made a determination on how to proceed with the prosecution.”
McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said there was nothing in the files his office received from police that pointed to anything other than friendly fire in Freeman’s death.
“My heart and prayers go out to the Freeman family for losing their son in this senseless act of violence,” Reyna said in a statement.
“You can never “get over” the loss of a child. All anyone can do is look to God to find some way to cope and live with the incredible loss they feel.”
Although Freeman isn’t entirely satisfied, he praised the work of prosecutors in the case against Gage and Barber.
“They’ve been nothing but excellent,” said Freeman.
“I can only hope this result is some amount of justice and provides a basis to try and move forward,” said Reyna.
Freeman said the next steps for him would be to gather all the evidence he can, and get back Braeden’s belongings which were seized.
Braeden, a Mart High School graduate, was working at Rosati’s restaurant in Waco and attending McLennan Community College to study musical arts at the time of his death.
"There's no telling what he could have done, but God had something better for him to do,” his father said.
He recalled Braeden’s 18th birthday when he wanted to get angel wings tattooed on his back, but never did.
"Two years and three weeks later…he got angel wings,” Freeman said with tears.
Freeman, who works in the railroad industry, said he was on a business trip in Kansas when his son passed.
“I woke up, sat straight up in the bed and grabbed my heart and felt him holler, felt him call me, and knew that he was gone,” he said.
Braeden loved sports, music, and was very intelligent, according to his father, who said his son had been beating him at everything from basketball to checkers his whole life.
"Why should I not be surprised he beat me to heaven?” He said.
Although every day without him has been a struggle at best, Freeman said his son continues to find ways to reach him, through dreams, songs, people, and other unexplainable phenomena.
“It’s not happenstance,” he said.
Although he doesn’t have closure yet, Freeman finds comfort in sharing his son’s story in hopes he will someday be with him again.
"He lived a short term here on life, but he had a more full life in the 20 years on this planet than I’ll ever get in however many years I'm granted on this planet,” he said.
“My goal is to save as many people's lives as I can so that I can end up in heaven with my dad and with my son.”
Freeman’s father’s death came four months after Braeden’s.
Besides his father, Braeden leaves behind a mother, and a sister, Savannah.
A scholarship fund has now been set up in Braeden's name to keep his memory alive.
“He’s more beautiful on the inside than the outside,” said Freeman.
“He’s my angel.”