'Senseless': TCU student killed by stranger in apparently random shooting, police say

ByJessie DiMartino and Cristina Corujo ABCNews logo
Monday, September 4, 2023
TCU student killed by stranger in apparently random shooting: police
Matthew Purdy has been charged in the murder of Wes Smith after the TCU student was shot to death in Fort Worth, police said.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- A grief-stricken family and school are mourning the shocking death of a college student who was shot and killed in Texas this week in an apparently random assault, ABC News reported.

Wes Smith, a junior at Texas Christian University, was shot multiple times early Friday while standing on a sidewalk in Fort Worth's West 7th entertainment district, according to a police affidavit.

A suspect arrested shortly after the attack allegedly admitted to shooting Smith three times for no discernable reason, according to the affidavit.

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said Smith was killed "in a senseless act of gun violence."

"Wes was a TCU student and a remarkable young man who impacted countless lives including my own son as a football coach for his middle school team," Parker said on X.

Smith, a native of Germantown, Tennessee, was studying finance and marketing at TCU, according to his LinkedIn page.

"Wes was truly an amazing and loving son, brother, cousin, and friend to so many," his family said in a statement. "We are heartbroken by his passing and ask for the space to grieve during this terribly difficult time."

Smith was a former member of TCU's Division I football team, during his freshman year. On Saturday, the Horned Frogs held a moment of silence for him during their pre-game prayer, the school said.

"He was a beloved member of our community, and we grieve with his family and friends," TCU said in a statement.

The suspect in the shooting -- 21-year-old Matthew Purdy -- was charged with murder, police said. He remains in custody, jail records show. It is unclear if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

An officer patrolling the West 7th entertainment district heard gunshots shortly after 1 a.m. local time on Friday and found Smith suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the affidavit. Smith was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. Officers located multiple 9 mm fired casings at the scene, the affidavit said.

Surveillance footage shows a man with a backpack approach Smith and appear to speak to him, before Smith falls in the street, according to the affidavit. The man then stands over him before fleeing, according to the affidavit.

The gunman also hit a witness fleeing from the scene in the back of the head with a gun, causing a laceration, according to the affidavit.

Purdy was detained in the area and is believed to have hidden a 9 mm gun "in his crotch area" that he allegedly took apart while in the back of the patrol car, according to the affidavit. He had what appeared to be fresh blood on his backpack, police said.

After being read his rights, Purdy agreed to provide a statement, in which he "admitted to approaching Wes, who he didn't know and shooting him three times" -- in the stomach, shoulder and back of the head after he fell -- the affidavit stated.

"Matthew could not provide a clear reason as to why he shot Wes," the affidavit stated, noting that Purdy asked the victim if he knew his father, who was assaulted in the past in the area, before allegedly shooting him.

Mayor Parker commended police for taking swift action "to prevent more lives from being lost."

"Despite increased security efforts in the West 7th area, this is a tragic setback," she said. "The City and [Fort Worth Police Department] must work diligently together with bar and business owners in the area in the coming days to find additional solutions and continue collaborative efforts to make the area safer."