HOUSTON (KTRK) --Family and friends spent Wednesday evening honoring a young man who was murdered while coming to his mother's defense during a robbery.
He was killed Monday on Sands Point in southwest Houston.
"I still think there was more for him to do. And he knew that," says his father Weldon Ecford. "He started to realize that he could do more."
But Weldon Ecford's 25-year-old son was killed Monday night before he could reach his full potential. James Weldon Ecford was just steps outside of the family's home. He was trying to stop the man who had just robbed his mother while three other men watched from a car parked right across the parking lot.
"He and the guy got into a tussle. The car took off like it was going to leave him," his mother Jackie Ecford shared. "He started to running and he couldn't get away from my son. And at that point he shot him."
Jackie Ecford tells us he died at Memorial Hermann Hospital about three hours later.
"My son will not be defined by the violence that took his life. My son will be defined by the life he lived."
At a candlelight vigil, family and friends celebrated the life of a man whose parents say beat the odds that were stacked against him. James was diagnosed with autism when he was two.
"He talked. He walked. He went to school. He became two-time unanimous all district football player recruited to Abilene Christian," James Ecford said.
"My brother had so much potential. He had potential to do great things," added his brother Brandon Ecford.
"He lived a hero's life before that night," said Jackie Ecford. "So was it a heroic act? Yes he was selfless. He never thought of the danger when he came out here."
Praying for peace in this tragedy, the family also prayed for justice.
"By virtue of the fact that he came out and did what he did and he gave up his life, the ultimate sacrifice for his mother. I can deal with that. What I can't live with is not catching these guys," said Weldon Ecford.
The family is certain someone around here knows who did this to their son. They hope the money they're raising for a reward will help bring his killer to justice.
Anyone with information is asked to call the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.