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White boss shoots young Black employee

By Zavier Muhammad | Last updated: Dec 10, 2012 - 1:05:02 PM

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Earnest Hoskins, Jr., 21 with his wife Nikki Hoskins, 25 and daughter Alexis, 5.
(FinalCall.com) - LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An early Friday in November should have been the end of the work week for 21-year-old Ernest Hoskins of North Little Rock. His shooter is expected to go to trial in January.

What started out as a routine business meeting at the home of his boss ended with the death of the young father and newlywed.

According to witnesses, the owner of Reynell Industries, Christopher Reynolds, 34, of Ward, Ark., became upset over sales figures from the previous week.

According to the affidavit, one witness asserted owner Reynolds had complained that Mr. Hoskins had not been “producing” for the business, got a gun and fired it at Mr. Hoskins.

Mr. Reynolds stated in an affidavit that he picked up the gun, a .44 magnum, pointed the gun at Mr. Hoskins head and pulled the trigger but the gun did not fire.

“I then pulled the slide back and a round went into the chamber” and the gun went off while he was trying to “de-cock” it by pulling the trigger and holding the hammer.

That shot struck Mr. Hoskins in the head and ended his life in a small town approximately 30 miles north of Little Rock.

According to Nikki Hoskins, Earnest’s wife of less than five months, her husband had just received a promotion. He was made regional sales manager over the southern U.S., she said. He was at his boss’s house every day, and the employer extended dinner invitations to the couple.

Mr. Reynolds even took Earnest to meet his parents and enjoyed breakfast and lunch with them on more than one occasion, she added.

Ms. Hoskins described the relationship between her husband and his employer as unusually close, which made his death even more difficult to explain.

Earnest received a gift of a sword in the mail from Mr. Reynolds Nov. 5, four days before the shooting, she said. She told him he could not keep in the house. But then came gifts of several daggers Nov. 6, about which Mr. Reynolds allegedly said, “You’ll have to use them sooner or later,” according to the young widow.

The Black community has grown outraged over the handling of the case. The shooting took place Nov. 9 and Mr. Reynolds was not arrested until Nov 24. Speaking at a Nov. 26 prayer vigil attended by family and friends on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol, attorney Benjamin L. Crump of the law firm Parks Crump said no one had said who was in charge of or in control of the investigation. There appeared to be confusion about who was heading the investigation with finger pointing between state police and the prosecutor, he added.

Rev. Stacy Lee Allen, an activist with the group Stop the Violence and an ex-offender, spoke emotionally about gun violence and of firsthand knowledge of punishment for gun violence. He could not understand how it took so long to issue an arrest warrant. A bond hearing was held Nov. 27 and bond was set at $100,000. This has further outraged a community struggling to understand the lack of news coverage of the shooting and the length of time between Mr. Hoskins’ death and the Reynolds arrest.

There were several speakers at the prayer vigil, including family of the victim, attorneys, clergy and community activists.

Monica Hoskins, mother of the victim, was visibly shaken while attempting to address the media.

Speaking through tears and physically supported by those standing with her, she said,

“That was my son. That was my baby … My one and only son.”

Nikki Hoskins, 25, stood with such strength. “My husband was the sweetest man you would ever want to meet,” said Mrs. Hoskins, who is in the Army. “He showed me this love that you only figured is alive in story books and fairy tales,” she said.

Military weapons training left her wondering why someone would bring a weapon into a business meeting. “Why was a loaded gun pointed at my husbands?” she asked. “I’m a widow at 25.”

She shared how couple’s adopted daughter asks daily, “When is my daddy coming home from heaven? That’s the hardest thing,” according to Mrs. Hoskins.

Earnest and Nikki Hoskins were newly married. They were planning a church wedding in upcoming months. She described her husband as a very romantic man, who she had known him since he was 17. He first expressed a romantic interest in her online, but she brushed him off as not serious.

He continued to pursue her over two and one-half years. She finally gave in and they began date July 27, 2011. Because of the way they met, many openly doubted that an online romance could turn into anything substantive. Mr. Hoskins, a song writer, rapper and poet, would write a poem and bring her flowers and candy at work every month on the 27th, recalled his widow. He started the first month after they began to date. Earnest proposed to her after dating for five and a half months. One year after they started dating, they married.

He had plans of joining the air force and investing in real estate. The opportunity that opened at Reynell Industries excited Mr. Hoskins, according to his wife. He enjoyed his job and the opportunity that it afforded him to better take care of his family, she added.

Mr. Hoskins worked there for two months and received a promotion days before the shooting.

Since the shooting, Reynell Industries website has been taken down and the company’s phone has been disconnected.

According to the Go Big Network, Mr. Reynolds was seeking 25,000,000 from potential investors for his company. Reynell Industries was described as a company that provided compressed natural gas conversion kits for automobiles and proposed opening service centers and filling stations throughout the state for vehicles that use natural gas.

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