HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A family is heartbroken after an 11-year-old was shot multiple times Thursday evening outside a northeast Harris County apartment complex while going to get his coat from his mother's vehicle.
Brenetta Francis said her youngest son, Darius 'DJ' Dugas II, who she called, 'King Darius' celebrated earlier this week that he had grown to 5 feet tall.
"He just touched the heart of everyone because he was very wise before his time," Francis said. "He had a smile that would light up the room, and we're going to honor him the best way that we can."
Francis said her son was a 6th grader at the Dr. Gerald D. Cobb 6th Grade Campus and played in the band.
"I just want everybody to know Darius was a positive person," Francis said. "He would not want us to be sad. He would want us to celebrate his life and just make something positive out of this."
Francis said Thursday evening at about 6 p.m., they had just received a notification from their school stating it would be closed due to inclement weather and the family was planning on spending the next couple days bundled up at home.
"My son's clothes, his night clothes are still in the restroom, on the restroom counter," Francis said. "He just wanted to get settled. That's all he was doing."
Francis said her son went downstairs to get his remaining items out of the vehicle sitting in the parking lot of the northeast Harris County apartment complex.
Dugas' family believes the 11-year-old was shot before he was able to get the items he intended to get out of the vehicle.
"All I know is, for a strong 10 seconds my baby feared for his life before he lost it," Francis said. "I was upstairs, along with his big brother and big sister, and there was nothing we could do about it."
The Harris County Sheriff's Office told ABC13 that deputies were dispatched to the scene of a shooting around 6:50 p.m. in the 12200 block of Tidwell that night and Dugas was rushed to the hospital where he later died.
Deputies said witnesses saw a teenager with a short afro wearing a white shirt and dark sweat pants run away after the shooting in the direction toward Tidwell.
"There should be no reason somebody should feel comfortable to take another person's life," Francis said. "Especially a child's. A harmless child."
Investigators returned to the crime scene on Friday to canvas the area again. The suspect remains on the run.
"It is far from easy for me to stand up here, but I am going to forever be his mother. It's my job to make sure his death is not in vain," Francis said. "We need justice and I believe justice will be served. I believe it's going to be served because that's just how much Darius was loved. There's no way possible someone will treat my son and gun him down so close in the community and get away with it."
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for burial expenses.
"Love on your kids," Marjai Francis, Dugas' grandmother said. "In no way we would have thought this would have happened to us. So, if you have a baby tonight, go in that room and hug and love on that child. Because it may be the last time."
Francis said the family plans to have a candlelight vigil and funeral arrangement details announced next week.
Galena Park ISD released the following statement to ABC13 after the 11-year-old student was identified by family on Friday:
"We are deeply saddened to inform you that one of our students passed away (Friday). This student will be missed by all. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the student's family and friends and ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Students and staff may react in different ways to the loss of a school community member, some more intense than others. We encourage you to talk with your child as it is important for students to express their feelings. Traumatic events, like the loss of a friend or peer, can trigger emotional responses that may require counseling support."
The Galena Park ISD Crisis Response Team and Dr. Gerald D. Cobb 6th Grade Campus counselors are available for students and staff should their assistance be needed. Students who wish to speak with a counselor may call or visit the campus during regular office hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or text "SUPPORT" to 832-479-2135 after school hours to speak with a trained mental health professional.
For updates on this story, follow Roxie Bustamante on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.