This story has been updated.
Rogelio Altamirano said he has completely changed his life since his best friend William Hawkins was shot a year ago today outside a convenience store in downtown San Antonio.
Altamirano, who goes by the nickname “Rome,” lived on the streets alongside Hawkins for years. The shooting hit Rome hard, and he was eventually able to connect to a counselor at Corazón Ministries.
“I was kind of lost for a second,” he said during a memorial held Thursday across the street from the convenience store where Hawkins was gunned down — apparently after asking the shooter for money or help. “I still think about him on the daily. It was hard but it’s getting easier.”
Rome now works five days a week at a restaurant, is taking his medication and has been off the streets for four months, living sober in transitional housing.
“The loss of William was tremendous, but it was not without something good,” said Dawn White-Fosdick, CEO of Christian Assistance Ministry, where people receive free groceries, clothing, and connections to financial and housing resources. “[Rome] started asking for help.”
While Rome’s personal transformation has been dramatic, there has been no apparent movement in the case regarding the man who shot Hawkins around 10 a.m. on Oct. 20 last year.
The man told police he felt threatened when Hawkins, 35, approached him as he pumped gas. The man drove around the block after the shooting but parked nearby and cooperated with the police when they arrived. Security cameras at CAM captured much of the incident; the organization gave the footage to the police.
In March, a Bexar County grand jury declined to charge the man.
At the time, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales issued a statement: “Because this case may be the subject of further review or investigation, we can make no further comment on it.”
It’s unclear if any further review took place. The District Attorney’s Office said Thursday it “cannot comment on pending cases.”
“We want justice for William,” White-Fosdick said. “He is not someone to be afraid of. Being homeless, asking for money, is not a reason that anyone should lose their life.”
Adam Harris, William’s younger brother, said his family was told by police to “trust the legal process, because that’s where you’ll find justice.”
One year later, there is still none, he said. “It just feels like we’re invisible. … SAPD and the District Attorney should know that we’re not going anywhere.”
William struggled with mental health and addiction, but Margaret Hawkins, his mother, said he was a “very kind-hearted, loving person” who would always stand up against bullies in school.
“I couldn’t get him to come home [off the streets] because deep down in my heart I felt like he was ministering to people and he was always like that — he was going to be with his friends,” said Margaret, who has herself experienced homelessness.
“Being homeless should not define a person’s character,” she said. “It could happen to anyone.”