A North Texas man dubbed a serial killer by Dallas police will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Jeremy Rashaud Harris was handed a life sentence without parole Wednesday after pleading guilty to one count of capital murder in Collin County, as well as three counts of murder and two counts of aggravated assault in Dallas County. Prosecutors from both counties had agreed not to ask for the death penalty in exchange for Harris’ guilty plea.
Harris was indicted in late February 2021 in connection to a string of drive-by shootings committed in fall 2020 across North Texas. He was a stranger to all of his victims, except for the last, who was the grandfather of Harris’ children.
The first murder occurred on Halloween night, with 19-year-old Robert “Jaden” Urrea being gunned down in Downtown Dallas while he was walking home from a party. He was a student at Southern Methodist University pursuing political science and pre-law.
“I want his face to haunt your dreams,” Urrea’s mother told Harris in court on Tuesday, according to NBC 5 DFW. “You are a weak excuse for a man, a coward.”
Harris later went on to kill both 36-year-old Adam Gautreau and 57-year-old Kenneth Hamilton on the evening of November 14 in Dallas. The latter had been shot inside his car as he waited at a stoplight.
“I have to live every day thinking my husband was killed for nothing,” said Joyce Hamilton, the victim’s wife, according to The Dallas Morning News. “How could a human kill another human like that, like a dog in the street?”
Other shooting sprees occurred on November 16 and 17 without any casualties. Then on November 18, Harris killed Blair Carter, the father of his ex-girlfriend Amber Carter, inside his Celina home before setting it ablaze.
Speaking to the court on November 14, Amber Carter described how she had been staying with her father for the two months prior, “living with the one person [she] trusted most” after living in “heartache and fear” with Harris for seven years, according to the DMN.
It was Blair Carter’s death that turned the authorities’ attention to Harris.
“It is extremely unusual for someone to just go on a shooting spree,” Reuben Ramirez, then-deputy chief of the Dallas Police Department, said upon Harris’ arrest, according to WFAA.
“I believe this is the definition of a serial killer,” he added.
In Dallas, the murder rate continues to soar despite DPD’s targeted efforts to drive down violent crime in the city. As of November 15, there had been 219 murders and non-negligent homicides logged in the City’s crime analytics dashboard, a year-over-year increase of over 14%.
Dampening efforts to maintain public safety is the longstanding officer shortage within the DPD. The department currently has just 3,200 sworn-in officers despite a report by the City of Dallas recommending a force of about 4,000 officers to adequately serve and protect the city’s residents.
The effects of the officer deficit are apparent in Downtown Dallas, where criminal activity remains robust, especially when compared to Fort Worth’s city center, which is patrolled by a designated neighborhood police unit working alongside private security guards. One study found that assaults were four times more likely in the former than in the latter, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.