‘He touched so many people:’ Charlotte family pleads for justice after father, football coach is killed over the weekend
Hammond started volunteering as a football coach in 2010
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Friday night lights and family dinners will never be the same for everyone who knew and loved Ralph Hammond.
Ralph Hammond was less than 12 hours away from leading a Saturday morning workout when he was shot and killed in his neighborhood in Northeast Charlotte.
Police say Hammond died at the scene just before 10 p.m. Friday on Deaton Hill Drive in the Highland Park neighborhood.
No suspects have been named as of Monday evening.
“I would hope that whoever did this would come forward,” Hammond’s mother Ruth Hammond McFadgen said.
“Whoever did this took it upon themselves to take away not only my dad’s life away from him but just a wonderful pillar in the community,” Hammond’s oldest daughter Reyona said.
Days later, his family is mourning, hurting, and trying to pick up the pieces. Reyona says she will cherish the memories of her father’s laugh and their time spent together.
“He had a really loud obnoxious laugh but it was very contagious,” Reyona said. “It’s the small things like going out to dinner and chats on Facetime.”
Hammond started volunteer coaching within Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools around 2010.
“He touched so many people, from just sports, purely sports, everybody loved him,” Hammond’s oldest son Rashad Fletcher said.
He wasn’t just running plays during the season, he used his own money to create a training gym in his garage.
“It was an open door policy. Anybody from any school who was willing to work to get better, he allowed them to come here,” Fletcher says it helped students get stronger and have an outlet for their emotions.
Hammond spent most of his time between 2010 and 2020 at Mallard Creek High School. His sister Debbie says he was like a father figure to many of the players and wanted to make sure they had a positive influence.
“They would just all be here and he would treat them just like they were his. They ate together, they did stuff together, and they hung out together,” Hammond’s sister Debbie said. “He took them wherever they needed to go.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Athletic Director Ericia Turner spoke very highly about Hammond’s commitment and impact.
“His leadership and relationships that he built with students will be greatly felt for a long time,” Turner said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, the Mallard Creek family, and to all of those who he had an impact on.”
Hammond’s mother Ruth reminisced on Hammond’s early years, affectionally known as Pierre or Big Ralph, and says he looked out for his younger siblings.
“I tried to instill within them to love everybody and we didn’t want to have any favorite people, color was not an issue,” Hammond McFadgen said. “It was instilled in him, that love and compassion that he has for all people.”
Police are still searching for the person or people responsible for Hammond’s death.
“It doesn’t make any sense. They took the coward’s way out,” Debbie said “If they had an issue with him they could’ve sat down and had a conversation with him.”
“I just hope that whatever answers we seek we get them soon and whoever is responsible is brought to justice as soon as possible,” Reyona said.
“He had a unbelievable spirit. He was selfless working behind the scenes with no fanfare. He never talked about the incredible things he did for Mallard Creek Football. He’s irreplaceable. They’ll never be another Big Ralph,” said Hammond’s best friend Q. Brown.
Police say the investigation is active and ongoing.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to a Homicide Unit detective. The public can also leave information anonymously by contacting Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or by visiting their website.
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