Kendrick Wilder Obituary – Prairie View A&M University officials confirmed that 31-year-old Hempstead native Kendrick Wilder was the victim killed in a shooting on the Waller County campus early Monday morning. “I am devastated by the loss of life on the farm of our main campus, a place where we conduct the important work of teaching, research, and mentoring, and moreover, a place that is symbolic of our connection and concerted efforts to uplift and positively impact our community,” Prairie View A&M University President Tomikia P. LeGrand said in a statement Tuesday.
Around 9 a.m., Wilder was shot multiple times while working at one of the university farms by a former university employee, Prairie View A&M University Police Department said. The shooting at the Governor Bill and Vera Daniels Farm and Ranch led to a shelter-in-place on the campus. The former employee reportedly was detained shortly after by PV officers. Waller County records show the suspect, Devon Elliott Rhodes, has been charged with murder.
LeGrand said the investigation into the shooting is still active. Prairie View resident Jeanette Williams said the two men had previously worked together and had “conflicts” in the last few months. She also said she was told Rhodes was pushing to get his job back but was rejected. In the aftermath, she said she believes Rhodes was upset, wanted to “get revenge,” and “took his frustration” out on Wilder.
“The conflict between them two has been going on for a while, but Kendrick was known to be a really, really nice person,” she told Chron. “He was a coach to many children, and he wasn’t the type of person that would get involved with any type of trouble.” In addition to being an employee of the university, Wilder was a husband, a father of four children, and a Prairie View alumnus. Additionally, Wilder was a coach of the non-profit youth football team, the Waller Pee Wee Bulldogs.
Youth football team officials declined Chron’s request for comment on Wilder but wrote a heartfelt message on his impact on the team on Facebook. “We are in disbelief, yet our hearts ache at this tragic reality,” they wrote. “We will remember Ken for the loving, high energy, influential coach who showed up and showed OUT!! He loved his boys, and we all love him. Please keep his family and friends lifted in love and prayer and be considerate of this matter for them as well.”
Amid Wilder’s death, the Waller County community has also started a fundraiser producing replicas of his Hempstead High School varsity and Pee Wee football jerseys. Williams said in a small town like Prairie View, which has a population of around 8,000 residents, “we know everybody,” and Wilder and his family were known as some of the “nicest people you can ever meet.”
“If you ever need anything, they will do something for you,” she said. “They are not affiliated with no kind of trouble, no drama, no violence, nothing like that; they’re just regular church-going people.” The university’s president said PVAMU aims to “elevate the safety” of the campus and “strengthen” the alert and response system.
“While it is impossible to predict what can occur, we can, and we must do our best to be prepared,” she wrote in a statement. “And it is our earnest desire for PVAMU to be a safe space for our students, faculty, and staff to learn, work, and grow. Please know that we will work vigilantly to elevate the safety of the Prairie View A&M campus community by strengthening approaches for alerts and responses to impending danger. We will be engaging with the entire campus in ongoing efforts to do so.”