Editor's note: A previous version of this story included incomplete information about security at Ware Meadows Apartments. This version has been updated.
Valerie Hackett loved travel, dogs, watching “The Golden Girls” and “Friends,” was never angry and was on her way to nursing school. Her mother, Andrea Rodgers, said she lost everything she ever wanted when Valerie, her only daughter, was shot and killed Jan. 30 at a Longview apartment complex.
Brandon Keith Harris, 36, of Longview has been arrested in the shooting of Hackett, 24, at Ware Meadows Apartments, police said. He is being held in the Gregg County Jail on $1 million bond on a charge of capital murder for retaliation judge/justice.
“I lost my future. I lost everything that I ever wanted,” Rodgers said. “I lost my only girl.”
Rodgers, who lives in the Bay Area in California, said a girl had not been born in her family for 25 years before she had Hackett.
“So she was special,” Rodgers said. “And for her to be gunned down by a homicidal maniac that could have been in jail the first time. ... I have a lot of questions. A lot of questions.”
Harris was scheduled for a court appearance the day after the shooting in connection with a January 2019 incident that also involved him firing a weapon at the apartment complex.
Rodgers said Harris should not have been out of jail.
“He had shot up the building already. He was a menace already,” she said. “I question, why wasn’t he on an ankle monitor? And they released him to the public. He was a time bomb ready to explode. He was facing 10 or 15 years. He had nothing to lose.”
Rodgers said her sister, Pancy Daniels, is the manager of the apartments, and Hackett was working there for her. She said the security team at the apartment complex recently had been let go.
Daniels contacted the News-Journal the day this story published to clarify the security situation. Daniels said the apartments have security at night and that it does not have security at the front door.
Rodgers said her daughter spent a lot of time traveling. It was not uncommon for Rodgers to get a call from her daughter surprising her with where her latest adventure was.
Hackett previously had lived in Chicago, across the street from former President Barack Obama’s family home on the south side, Rodgers said. Her daughter was a fan of the musician Chance the Rapper, and she once marched with him and loved to see him on “Saturday Night Live” when he hosted or performed.
When Hackett found out that a documentary about the death of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was being filmed in Miami, she jumped on a plane to be an extra.
“She was like a little air head. I’m like, ‘You just got this job,’” Rodgers said. “She’d say, ‘I can always get another job.’ And that’s how she lived her life.”
But with the age of 25 inching closer, Hackett wanted more stability. Rodgers said after seeing her friends get married or finish college, her daughter was ready for a change of pace, which led her to moving to Longview and working with her aunt about a year ago.
“She was ready to get her life together and settle down,” Rodgers said. “So we told her, ‘It’s time now, you’ve had your fun now. You’re about to be 25, what are you going to do?’”
The Monday before she was killed, Hackett had been accepted to nursing school, Rodgers said.
“Valerie was a loving, great daughter — always happy, always wanting to assist,” she said, “and for her to die a senseless, cruel murder like this is devastating. Her personality reminds me of a giant, golden Labrador retriever running at you, because that’s how she came, with hugs.”