Cornelia Moore was known as a protector. The youngest of three, Moore defended her older siblings on the basketball courts in Kentucky, her mother recalls.
“If she saw someone picking on her sister or her brother, she would go talk to them,” Rochelle Moore-Wells said. “It was funny because she was still trying to protect them, but she was the smallest of the group.”
Four years ago, Moore moved to Austin, her hometown, and Moore-Wells followed her in 2020. Soon, Moore was going to get engaged. His girlfriend’s son had previously asked Moore, 27, to be his other mom.
But on September 4, while Moore was driving to get her hair done before a weekend at the beach with her best friends, she was shot to death in what has been described as a road rage incident.
Police have arrested Tony McCullough and Raffinee McCorkle and charged them with murder, but Moore’s family and friends are still seeking answers as to what led to the fatal encounter.
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McCullough remained in jail on Friday in lieu of $ 250,000 bail, according to public records. McCullough’s attorney, Robb Shepherd, declined to comment on the incident on Friday.
McCorkle was released on bail on September 6 and his lawyer could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Moore is among a record number of homicide victims this year. It is not clear whether road rage incidents are on the rise in Austin. Austin Police Department is tracking road rage incidents, but a spokesperson would not provide the data to the US statesman without first receiving a request under the Information Act State of Texas, which the statesman submitted.
Police officials said Moore called 911 around 12:30 p.m. to report that a gray Dodge Charger was “following her and engaging in ‘road rage’ type behavior.” She said someone in the Charger was pointing a gun at her and said the Charger struck her vehicle, according to the arrest affidavit.
Moore then reported that someone in the Charger shot him. Moore was able to tell police where she was before she stopped responding, police said. Police have not disclosed any possible motive for the murder.
Officers spotted Moore’s black BMW on the main road southbound from Interstate 35 near Park 35 Circle in North Austin. She had only one gunshot wound. Doctors tried to treat her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:07 p.m.
According to the affidavits of arrest, McCullough and McCorkle said they were rushed off the road by an unidentified vehicle, which they said continued to follow them.
McCullough said the car stopped next to them and the driver laughed, but he did not provide further details about the incident, according to the affidavits. McCorkle has denied knowing about the shooting, according to the affidavits.
Police officials said they would not provide any further information as the case is still under investigation.
“It broke my heart when I heard it because when I heard it it was on speakerphone and my kids were there,” said Moore’s girlfriend Gabrielle Garrett. “To hear my kids scream and my son cry and (walk away) from me saying, ‘No’, that was really hard. “
Moore is remembered at a funeral hosted by her family and again at a car meeting hosted in her honor by Street Bullies, the auto club she founded, which hundreds of people attended.
“You could feel his love all along the parking lot,” Garrett said. “It’s important for her to have her two families mixed up. His Street Bullies family and his real family.
On October 4, a month after his death, his relatives gathered at Zilker Park to release balloons in memory of Moore.
“It’s so sad that she passed away this way, so full of life. She just wanted everyone to be successful, and I was so proud of her because she had just recovered, ”Moore-Wells said.
When Moore was 8, she received a Chrysler 300 toy that she took wherever she went for over a decade. She felt such a strong connection to this toy that she swore to buy a 300 as her first car, which she did when she was 20.
In Austin, she found a second family thanks to her love of cars.
Street Bullies organized car cruises around the city and car rallies in parking lots. Moore had planned the group’s next big event at a Sunday brunch with some of her closest friends the week before she was killed.
Street Bullies vice chairman Ben Rivas, one of Moore’s closest friends, said Moore has made his auto club as inclusive as possible and welcomes anyone interested without judgment. The group’s Facebook page has over 600 followers.
Moore made those around him feel welcome and happy, he said. Rivas said Moore will always try to help people through difficult times, including him.
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Moore consoled Rivas after losing his job and was about to lose his car. Moore said they would go through this difficult time together, and they did.
“It tore me apart just knowing that I could never see her again, hear her laugh, hear her laugh at me.” It hurts deep down just because she has such a big impact on my life, even when I was at my lowest, ”Rivas said.
Moore also took care of his mother’s car. Moore replaced his wipers, changed the oil, and made sure the Moore-Wells car was up to date for all maintenance after Moore-Wells moved to Austin in October.
“When I had problems with my car, she said, ‘Mom, when I’m old I’ll be a mechanic,’” Moore-Wells said. “I’ll fix the cars, so you don’t have to worry about your car breaking down. You can call me.'”
Planning for the future
Moore had just landed a job as a mechanic with higher pay and benefits near his apartment in North Austin. Previously, she worked as a mechanic at Lucas Tire and Auto Service. She was getting into photography and her girlfriend had just opened a salon, which Moore urged her to do.
Without Moore to encourage Garrett to follow his dream, Garrett said she never would.have opened his own business.
“All my life I’ve been like, ‘Hey, I have kids. I can not do that. I can not do that. I have to do that. You know, I have to work. I got to work to support them, ”said Garrett. “She was literally the first person to say to herself, ‘Hey, you can do that, and you can still be the mom that you are.'”
Garrett and Moore FaceTimed on the phone together every night as they fall asleep. Moore played Call of Duty almost every day with Garrett’s children, ages 9 and 11. Garrett’s son even cut his hair to look like Moore’s.
“They used to walk around the house some nights when I walked ina long day at work, and they’ll both have underwear on their heads, I don’t know why, but that was what they were doing, “Garrett said.” Certainly, a wonderful human being. . “
When Garrett and Moore drove late at night, they dreamed of what the future held. Moore wanted to open an auto store.
“We were both dreamers,” Garrett said. “We both had a lot of nights where we were just going to sail and think about what we were going to do next, how we were going to do it. As we get older we might leave the country and live somewhere else and take a plane with our kids and family for vacations and just enjoy life.
“Always try to make someone smile”
Two weeks before Moore died, she was dancing in her older sister’s new apartment. Moore-Wells remembers how much Moore laughed that day, the last day the family would be together.
“If she wasn’t in a good mood, you wouldn’t know it,” Moore-Wells said. “She was always trying to keep a smile on someone’s face, just like me, always trying to make someone smile.”
Moore would turn the fantasy into reality. When Garrett explained what her parents would call Garrett Princess and how she dreamed the unicorns were real, Moore took her to the first castle, near College Station, that she had ever seen.
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“If you were in the same room as Cornelia, you were laughing, you would feel her vibrations. He is a happy person. She’s always been positive, ”Garrett said. “His energy has always been great. It was his light. You could tell she was a wonderful person, as if her smile would make you smile.
Rivas said Moore will act as a fire extinguisher for any negative emotion within their group of friends. Even though she was going through a difficult time, she would still aim to make life easier for others.
If someone came to car meetings and made rude comments, Moore would confront them.
“Kindly, but in a very, very strong way (she was) like, ‘Hey, there’s no need to do all of that. Take it easy. Step back; go your way, ”Rivas said. “It really put into perspective how protective she was.”
“I know she is with us”
Garrett still says hello to Moore on certain days.
“I normally talk to her like she’s with me,” Garrett said. “I tell her that she can move mountains with God now; you can protect us as you always wanted and watch over us all at the same time, and you don’t have to feel sad anymore, and you don’t have to hold anything. You’re free now, and we’ve always talked about our freedom.
Garrett rereads Moore’s text messages every day and leaves her face on her phone screen as she falls asleep to mimic their bedtime ritual.
Garrett said she knew Moore could still hear her words.
“I know she’s with us because she loves us a lot,” Garrett said. “She’s someone that I was preparing to spend the rest of our lives together, so it’s like we share so much that I know we’re still connected because the soul lives on forever.”
Rivas has stated that Street Bullies will live for Moore.
“We’re definitely going to make sure he stays alive for her because that’s exactly what she would have wanted,” Rivas said.