One of the Hamilton Park Bobcats football team coaches was killed last week: Photo from the HP Bobcats Facebook page

One of the Hamilton Park Bobcats football team coaches was killed last week: Photo from the HP Bobcats Facebook page

The victim of a shooting last week in the Hamilton Park area of Lake Highlands reportedly was an involved member of the community who coached a kids’ sports team, the Hamilton Park Bobcats. He also was a graduate of Lake Highlands High School, 1986.

Hamilton Park is located southeast of the Central Expressway/I-635 interchange, north of Forest Lane. Sections of Hamilton Park feed into Lake Highlands High School. The neighborhood is home to Hamilton Park Elementary School, a magnet school that serves students from Lake Highlands and other Richardson ISD neighborhoods. For more about Hamilton Park’s history, see our 2011 piece “Lake Highlands, TX” or the Texas State Historical Association’s Hamilton Park page.

Meeting notice posted in Hamilton Park

Meeting notice posted in Hamilton Park

About 200 members of the Hamilton Park community along with councilman Jerry Allen, Dallas County commissioner Maurine Dickey, several police officers and community prosecutor Patrick Sanders attended a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Willie B. Johnson recreation center. The gathering was sparked by the murder last Wednesday of Hamilton Park resident Gregory Callahan.

Callahan reportedly was found dead at about 8:30 p.m. in the 8400 block of Bunche near 635. Police arrested a suspect days later; because that suspect is a juvenile, there is no other information available.

Because Dallas’ online police-report system is down, we do not have an incident report. I have filed an open records request for the report and 911 call. Until then, all we know for sure is that Callahan’s death by gunshot reportedly followed an altercation of some sort.

Organizers asked that media not attend last night’s meeting, so I did not take photographs or notes, but learned more about the community’s struggles and mood through a pre-meeting conversation with Rasheed Aziz, the founder and a coach of the Legacy Youth Sports program in Hamilton Park.

He and Callahan were friendly rivals, he says, and they had been talking recently about collaboration. It is evident after talking to Aziz and interacting with some of the Hamilton Park families that even as separate entities the youth sports programs are essential and hugely positive components of the community.

Aziz and other men who grew up in Hamilton Park noticed kids loitering and wandering, Aziz explains. He says they felt the good-old-day syndrome and wanted to provide positive activities for the neighborhood’s youngsters — to keep them out of trouble, improve their health and confidence, add structure to their lives.

Collectively, the Bobcats and Legacy offer several sports programs for Hamilton Park children as well as disadvantaged youth citywide. They charge as little as possible and hold car washes, T-shirt sales and other fundraisers to support the programs and ensure every child who wants to participate can do so.

Coach Aziz, who we are interviewing for a future print story in the Lake Highlands Advocate, shared that he is deeply affected by Callahan’s death. He spoke at the town hall meeting and says he plans to call his neighbors to action. He laments the lack of action, and he says that while he is disgusted with the killer, he also is frustrated with himself and members of the community for sitting back and watching historic Hamilton Park morph from “a neighborhood” to “the hood.” He says he wants residents and local business owners to support programs that benefit the next generation, both with money and time. He wants people to get involved with one another, talk to one another, and to not take for granted that troubled youth “should know better” — sometimes they do not know better, he points out, and we need to teach them better. He is calling on himself and neighbors to learn about and procure the resources that are available to communities in need.

While the meeting was going on inside the recreation center, the Bobcat team practiced at the park outside. Afterward, the children and parents circled-up and prayed for the deceased coach, one of about 12 Bobcat coaches, and the community at large.

You can support the Bobcat football program by purchasing a T-shirt for $15. Order via the HP Bobcat Facebook page by sending a message.