Kathy Higgins’ voice trembled as she remembered her caring daughter, Ashlyn.
The two hadn’t spoken since the fall, and now, after the 23-year-old was fatally shot early Thursday, Higgins will never be able to say goodbye.
“Let that be a lesson: Even though you’re fighting ...” Higgins said. “I regret not talking to her now.”
Omaha police said Ashlyn Higgins and Parris Stamps, 27, were together when they were shot in northeast Omaha early Thursday.
Just after 1:35 a.m., police officers responded to Creighton University Medical Center after a car arrived there with two shooting victims.
Ashlyn was treated for her wounds, but she died. Stamps was treated for a gunshot wound and was expected to survive, police said.
Kathy Higgins said her daughter was a teen math whiz whose life spiraled after she hung out with the wrong people.
Ashlyn bounced from school to school, Higgins said, then was pimped out in California by a controlling boyfriend. Over the last year, she said, Ashlyn was in an on-and-off relationship with Stamps, a man Kathy Higgins said she didn’t approve of.
“I don’t get along with Parris, and I didn’t like (Ashlyn’s) lifestyle,” Higgins said. “I haven’t talked to her for a couple months, which I hate now.”
Homicide detectives were in the area of 28th and Ruggles Streets, close to the North Freeway, throughout the morning Thursday. Shell casings were found in the area.
The shooting may have stemmed from a drug deal, Kathy Higgins said. She said she often saw Ashlyn and Stamps smoke marijuana together.
“I tried to tell her for a long time that she’s a better person than that — she doesn’t need that in her life,” Kathy Higgins said.
Ashlyn’s death is the city’s fourth homicide of 2017.
A teenager who lives with his mother on Ruggles Street said the two people who were shot were in a car outside his home.
“I heard six gunshots go off right outside our house,” said Phillip Dolezal, 16.
Dolezal said he was lying on a couch near the front of his home when he heard the gunshots.
“I looked outside and didn’t see anybody, just the car parked outside,” Dolezal said. “I didn’t even know the car was parked in front of my house.”
Dolezal said he didn’t see anyone fleeing from the scene after the shooting.
“It might have been someone in another car or someone on foot,” he said.
The teen said he didn’t know the man or the woman.
“Nobody on our block knows who they were,” Dolezal said.
Ashlyn and Stamps had a rocky relationship, Kathy Higgins said.
The two of them had lived with Kathy Higgins in an apartment for a while, she said, but she kicked them out because she didn’t approve of Stamps. Stamps is awaiting sentencing in February after he pleaded guilty to criminal impersonation after providing false information to a law enforcement officer.
He served 1½ years in prison on a strangulation charge involving another woman and roughly two years for criminal mischief and a separate case of criminal impersonation.
In December, Ashlyn Higgins told relatives that she wasn’t living with Stamps.
Four days ago, the two announced on Facebook that they were in a relationship.
“I guess I’m angry at (Stamps),” Kathy Higgins said, “because I don’t think she would be in this situation if it wasn’t for him.”
A former boyfriend of Ashlyn’s had forced the young woman into prostitution in many states, Kathy Higgins said.
Ashlyn’s life in recent years was a stark change for a girl Kathy Higgins said scored high marks on the math section of the ACT.
“She cared about everybody,” Higgins said. “I think that’s why she ended up being sucked up into this. She trusted people and she loved everybody.”
Ashlyn attended multiple high schools — Westside High School, its alternative school and Boys Town — before graduating from Central High School, her mother said.
She attended Metropolitan Community College for accounting, Higgins said, but didn’t finish her degree.
Ashlyn was an assistant manager at a midtown Family Dollar and was learning how to run the store.
Frank Graeve, an assistant manager at the store, said Ashlyn always was on time and performed well in her training.
“We all miss her already,” he said.
Linda Knott, Ashlyn’s grandmother, said she was frustrated that no one had helped her granddaughter.
“It’s the story of trying to get her help and nobody would,” Knott said. “This is what happens.”
People with information about the shooting can contact the Omaha Police Department’s Homicide Unit at 402-444-5656 or Crime Stoppers at 402-444-STOP or www.omahacrimestoppers.net.