Darius J. Tarver

Darius J. Tarver

Family members and friends of Darius Tarver were still learning Wednesday of the death of the 23-year-old, who was killed by a police officer Tuesday morning during an exchange with police. Some took to social media to call for prayers while others remembered a person who aimed for a career in criminal justice.

Reached by phone, Tarver’s father, Kevin Tarver, said the family would know in the days ahead how they’ll lay him to rest following his death just one week into the spring semester at the University of North Texas.

Though he declined to comment immediately, Kevin Tarver wrote on Facebook that Darius was pursuing a second bachelor’s degree, this time in criminal justice, and was expected to graduate in May. A UNT spokeswoman said Darius Tarver was a senior criminal justice major.

A Texas Rangers investigation into the shooting was still underway Wednesday with no public updates in the case. Denton police said Tarver charged a group of “four or five” police officers while holding a skillet and meat cleaver early Tuesday morning at the apartment building where he lived.

A search of court records shows Tarver had no criminal history. His roommates, both of whom spoke to reporters Tuesday morning, said Tarver had spiraled into an “erratic” state in the week before his shooting death. Jeremy Taylor, one of the roommates, awoke Tuesday morning to find Tarver in an unrecognizable mental state inside the apartment but said he never felt Tarver was acting aggressively toward him.

By all accounts at this point, Tarver had no history of lashing out toward police. Multiple family members and the roommates have mentioned a car crash two weekends ago that some suspect caused changes in Tarver’s behavior.

Courtney Owens, who said on Facebook that she knew Tarver, wrote about her friend, known by many as “DJ.”

“I never heard you complain, ask for anything or speak bad on anyone,” Owens wrote, tagging Tarver and two others. “You were a part of everyone’s life, there wasn’t a friend you didn’t have.”

Dazha Gray, another Facebook user, tagged Tarver’s account and wrote, “still so hard to understand but I will always keep you with me in spirit. I am so grateful God allowed us to cross paths.”

Denton police said officers ordered Tarver to drop the skillet and cleaver multiple times, but Tarver did not comply. Police said an officer deployed a stun gun on Tarver twice, but Tarver kept moving. An officer then shot Tarver, killing him. People who heard the shooting told reporters they heard multiple shots fired.

Without saying much about how, police said Tarver injured an officer, calling the injury a “stabbing,” resulting in the officer being taken to a hospital Tuesday. The officer was released from the hospital later in the day.

The officer who shot and killed Tarver was put on standard leave while authorities investigate the shooting. Police have declined to release the names of the officers involved.

DALTON LAFERNEY can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @daltonlaferney.

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