Shanta Blackman could always count on her mother-in-law to be there when she needed her.
Blackman called Rita Moore, a 44-year-old mother of three, one of her best friends. Their families became even closer when Blackman married Moore’s oldest son, DaJuan, in January.
The two women talked every day, said the 24-year-old. Venting. Trading words of advice.
So when Blackman and the family heard a harassing ex-boyfriend of Moore’s forced his way inside her Raytown apartment on Monday, Blackman urged her mother-in-law to hear her out.
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“I told her, looked in her face, ‘Rita, you got to do something ... because if you don’t do something, he’s going to do something to hurt you.’”
Moore promised she would get off work — maybe even leave earlier than usual, Blackman said — to go downtown and request a protection order.
“And those were her plans,” Blackman said. “And she just never made it to that plan.”
Dozens of family members and friends released purple — the color signifying domestic violence awareness — and black balloons before sunset on Friday in honor of Moore and her boyfriend, Rodney Brundige, outside the apartment where they were fatally shot.
According to court documents, officers were there on Monday night when Moore complained her ex-boyfriend, Clifton Jack, was there causing a disturbance.
Jack, 45, was gone by the time officers arrived, but police later called him. The Lee’s Summit man discussed money Moore owed him. “I’m not afraid of going to jail,” he told an officer, according to court records.
Moore had told police Jack had been harassing her since they split up last September.
Two officers explained to Moore how to go to court to obtain a protection order.
About 6 a.m. Tuesday, Moore’s 18-year-old son called 911 to report Jack shot his mother and Brundige before turning the gun on himself.
Jack survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He’s been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Moore and Brundige, found lying in their bedroom with gunshot wounds, were pronounced dead at the scene.
On Friday, the victims’ family members held onto each other outside the apartment.
Blackman said Moore loved her children and her grandchildren “unconditionally,” and always brought with her “good energy.”
And while she hadn’t know Brundige very long, Blackman described him as a man who was “always laughing.”
The two had been together for a few months.
“She was happy. She moved on with her life, and he (Jack) couldn’t take it. He couldn’t take the fact that she was happy and she wasn’t happy with him,” Blackman said. “So the fact that he took her life because she didn’t want to be with him? That’s just a coward to me.”