In the last months of his life, Henry Faison was tired and hurting. He kept telling his mother to be strong and calm. She believes he was trying to prepare her.
Later that year, when he asked for gospel music, his family knew it was time to let him go. He was 30 years old.
Faison had been paralyzed from the neck down for six years, after being shot multiple times in his Bothell townhome in 2009. He succumbed to complications from his injuries.
Bothell police detective Mike Stone listened carefully to friends and family who spoke at the funeral service in 2015. The unsolved shooting had become a murder investigation.
A bright future
Overlooking Interstate 5 north of Lynnwood, Patricia Faison’s apartment is filled with photos. Henry Faison was the third of her four children. In one image, he is smiling, wearing a suit with a wide lapel.
One of his favorite memories was when his Meadowdale High School basketball team went to state. More than 100 people attended a memorial basketball tournament at the school after his funeral. On his birthday last July, his family hosted a cook-out at Lighthouse Park in Mukilteo. They hope to make it an annual tradition.
They remember Faison as he was in 2009, handsome and charismatic with a goofy sense of humor. He was fit, 6-foot-4 and 200-plus pounds. He always brought his dates to meet his mother.
“He was an amazing young man with a bright future,” she said. “I used to call him my big, giant gentleman.”
As a teen, Faison volunteered at summer camps and with the Boys & Girls Club. When he started working at a car wash, he asked his mom to take him to a financial adviser. That helped him own his first condo in Everett at 21, and later to lease the townhome along 11th Court SE in Bothell. He moved in about four months before the shooting.
Faison was managing apartment complexes, and thinking about buying rentals. He liked working on his truck and collecting Nike Jordan sneakers. Eventually, he wanted to get married and have children.
“People would take his kindness for weakness,” said his sister, Rhonda Faison, 28.
Patricia Faison had talked to her son hours before the shooting. He was at home with his girlfriend on Nov. 4, 2009. He was planning to play basketball that evening. A friend of his had stopped by for a while earlier.
There was a knock about 7 p.m. Henry Faison went to the door. His girlfriend heard a scuffle, then shots. She started screaming. The neighbors saw a group of people run to a car and take off.
Medics found Henry Faison bleeding in the doorway.
When Patricia Faison got the call, she rushed to her son. She pushed her way past police, trying to get to him. She didn’t recognize him at first, on the stretcher. She prayed it was somebody else, anybody else.
Some of her memories from that time have gone blank. It was like her son’s life, all of their lives, had been hit by “a freight train with no brakes.”
The right domino to fall
Stone and his partner, detective Wes Porter, have traveled to jails, prisons and two other states, hoping to uncover crucial information. They keep a poster-sized collection of mugshots of anyone who had some connection to Faison. His girlfriend has stayed in touch over the years, a helpful resource. They’ve run down theories, only to find one dead end after another.
The case now fills six three-ring binders.
Faison had no criminal history. “He wasn’t street-wise,” Stone said. “He wasn’t rough and tough.”
The same wasn’t true for others in his social circle. More than two dozen people have been interviewed. Not everyone cooperated.
The detectives say they have fresh leads. They keep the details close, even from Faison’s family and friends who regularly check up on them. The story, for them, doesn’t end with an arrest. They want to put someone behind bars.
Someday, Porter says, everything will click and “the right domino” will fall.
Stone spent time with Henry Faison after the shooting. He saw the young man’s suffering. At one point, the assault investigation was closed for lack of leads.
Stone went to Patricia Faison’s house, so she would hear it from him. Never again does he want to tell her that he’s stopped looking for answers.
“I got you”
The first year after the shooting was the toughest, for everyone.
Henry Faison spent two months at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle before being transferred to long-term care. At first, his mouth was wired shut. He’d been shot in the face and he needed a machine to breathe.
When he found out he was a quadriplegic, he refused physical therapy. He came home earlier than planned, and it was difficult to find and keep caregivers.
He was 24. He pushed some of his friends away. He didn’t want them to see how he’d changed from an athlete to someone who needed help to sit.
His mind was sharp, and it pained his mother when other adults avoided his eyes or didn’t address him directly. She hated when it rained on him at the bus stop. She misses the way he texted her, using a device controlled by his mouth, always telling her he loved her or asking her to pick up Gatorade.
He tried to be strong for his family, to keep them together, Rhonda Faison said. He teased his sisters and his niece, London, because they were always fighting over him. London, who is 12 now, was a fierce protector. She’d say to him, “Uncle, I got you.”
Henry Faison couldn’t remember the shooting, and his family was told not to press. Toward the end, he recalled bits and pieces, but it wasn’t enough. He may have worried that if he talked, the people with guns would come back.
He wasn’t angry so much as sad, Rhonda Faison said. He couldn’t understand why someone would want to hurt him.
His family gets angry for him. Sometimes they feel like no one cares, like there isn’t a reason to hope. They don’t want his memory to be “another black kid, a black man, who got shot,” Rhonda Faison said.
In 2015, Henry Faison knew his health was failing. When he couldn’t sleep at night, his mom stayed up with him.
He asked to go to Ocean Shores, where the family camped and flew kites when he was little. They had lunch on the beach, staying until it got cold.
Patricia Faison hasn’t forgotten the justice she promised her son. She hasn’t forgotten his reminders to be strong.
The Nov. 4, 2009, shooting of Henry Faison in Bothell became a homicide in 2015, when he died from complications from his injuries. Bothell police are asking for anyone with information about the case to come forward. so the family can have answers. The detectives can be reached at 425-487-5551. Tips can be anonymous.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @rikkiking.