Around 6:00 PM on Friday, May 1, 2020, Maranda Alford burst into a police station in Little Rock, Arkansas to notify authorities that her 11-year-old son, Jordan Roberts, had been taken hostage in their home at 1 Karon Court by her fiancé, 32-year-old Brent Martin, who also lived in the home.
Police rushed to the scene, soon followed by a swarm of upwards of 40 SWAT team members. When the first officers on the scene arrived, they heard gunfire from inside the house. Upon entering the home, Officer Scott Dettmer and Lieutenant Dana Jackson were confronted by the gunman and fired their weapons at him, killing him.
At a press conference on Saturday, Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey said, “The officers were attempting to gain communication and wait on our SWAT team. Gunshots were heard from inside the residence. We have now learned that those shots… were being fired by the suspect and… killed Jordan Roberts.”
In one of the bedrooms, police found Jordan suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. EMTs loaded the boy onto a stretcher and, according to a witness, literally ran him to a waiting ambulance with one first responder providing chest compressions as they ran alongside the stretcher.
Jordan was rushed to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Tragically, he did not survive his injuries, and he was pronounced dead that evening, barely a month before he would have celebrated his twelfth birthday.
Chief Humphrey said, “It’s with great sadness that we announce that our victim, 11-year-old Jordan Roberts, passed away from his injuries suffered at the hands of our suspect. So, I want to ask that we keep Jordan’s family in our thoughts and prayers.”
Chief Humphrey told gathered reporters that an internal investigation will be conducted on the use of deadly force during the incident, although, he said, the veteran officers involved had no choice but to make a split-second decision.
“With everything going on, their main focus was to save the life of this child,” Chief Humphrey said. “This was an imminent situation, and it happened only in a matter of seconds. They never thought about their safety.”
After shooting the suspect, the officers rushed to perform CPR on Jordan. “I’m telling you right now, our officers are hurting,” Chief Humprey said. “They tried everything they could do to save that young child, and that’s something that they will remember the rest of their lives.”
Both Officer Detmer and Lieutenant Jackson have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation, which is routine for any shooting involving an officer.
Neighbors and community members left flowers and stuffed animals outside the Karon Court house as a memorial to Jordan.
“It was a lot,” said neighbor Brianna Allen. “It happened so fast, and it was so close.”
Tianka Sheard, whose family lives across the street from the home and who also overheard the shootings, spoke to a reporter about the incident. “My husband and I were sitting right there in the living room, and we heard the first two shots.”
She said she watched first responders performing CPR on Jordan outside the home. “Oh my God, it just tore at my heart,” she said. “My anxiety was just above the roof and I just was thinking, ‘let them be able to save him, let them be able to save him.’”
Tianka’s son, Cartier, is having a hard time coming to terms with Jordan’s death. “It made me feel bad, bad and sad,” he said, “because he was my friend, and now I don’t feel like I have a friend to play basketball with.”
According to neighbors, Maranda, Jordan, and Brent had only moved into the small house on the corner of Karon Court and Labette Drive within a couple of months prior to the incident. They said they had seen Jordan running around in the yard. Those with children close to Jordan’s age took the news of his death particularly hard.
“He’s actually a little younger than my son,” said neighborhood resident Jessica Smith, who lives a block from the house, “so it really kind of hit home… I cried.”|
According to Brent Martin’s Facebook page, he and Maranda have been engaged since December 25, 2017. Brent attended New Tyler Barber College from 2006 to 2007, and he appears to have made a living cutting hair in various places
Court documents indicate that Maranda Alford and Brent Martin are named in an eviction proceeding from 19 Windsor Drive in January. It appears they were two payments behind on their $775 monthly rent when the property owners filed the complaint.
In 2016, Brent Martin was charged with domestic battery against a different person and found guilty in 2018. According to the Democrat Gazette, he also had several drug charges in the past. In October of 2019, a domestic incident occurred involving Maranda, and a no contact order was issued. That order expired on April 21.
Friends of Brent, also known as NBA the Barber, have posted plenty of remembrances of him online as well. One friend posted on May 3, “As I’m writing this I got my sad music on, and my tears are at still. I just can’t cry anymore because I know the truth. I’ve known Brent Martin and worked with him I know over 11+ years… like another brother. He was a real sweet, caring, gentle & loving funny thug… and if you knew my friend you knew B had a few demons which we all do. Well I know I do, he just had a hard time dealing with them… I feel like we all helped him fight the demons in some way whether it was just listening to him rant and cry about it whatever it was that was on his mind at da time or whatever. But as long as he could set up shop and cut hair and talk shit amongst us he was the happiest person in the world… oh yea you can’t forget that damn Cup! B gone have that damn cup, which was one of my best friend’s demons. Alcohol. He had to have it… B done had so many close calls with death but he wanted better my guy had stopped drinking business jumping, just had got a new big ass clean ass truck, money good, new house, and him and his girl was expecting a new baby with a step son… the tears are coming now because it’s fucked up Jordan didn’t deserve it… but I do know B loved that boy… I loved my friend I just feel like he gave up on all his friends and family. Coward move but I do believe he was tired and couldn’t take the pressure that life brings us. If the shops was open this shit would have never happened bc he would have been in da shop, shoes off, hair all over his socks, hair in face, with that damn cup!”
Others who loved Brent have tried to remind people that no one knows what really took place in the house that day. “Brent Martin cuh I can’t deal with this shit,” one wrote. “I mean it’s going to take a while for me to just come to. I haven’t been the same since this happened. It just doesn’t make any sense at all. Things aren’t sitting right with me… I know you loved your Son and StepSon. I remember you having to go to the school to take or do something for Jordan while in the middle of cutting my hair. It was over a hour before you came back… You did what a Father was supposed to do. I close my eyes often trying to put myself in that house that day. Trying to see what actually happened. Trying to understand. Trying to get some truth but only God knows.”
Brent D’Andrew Martin, whose friends also called him Dee, was born on July 6, 1987 in Lake Village, Arkansas and raised in nearby Hamburg, is survived by the infant son he shared with Maranda, as well as his parents, two brothers, and six sisters. A private graveside service was held for Brent on Thursday, May 7 at Johnson Memorial Cemetery in Hamburg.
A GoFundMe campaign was created to pay for funeral and memorial costs for Brent, with the leftover funds being set aside for his and Maranda’s young son, who was born in early 2019. The fact that the campaign will benefit the baby is the only reason I’m sharing it.
Honestly, unless evidence surfaces showing the bullets that killed Jordan were fired by someone other than Brent, I can understand how his friends and family feel, but my sympathy for them stops at them; I can’t bring myself to feel sympathy for the man who, based on the evidence and police accounts so far, murdered a beloved little boy, even if the man was struggling with life’s challenges in one way or another. We all struggle in our own way, some harder than others; most of us don’t cause the deaths of innocent children in the process.
As for Jordan, I have nothing but sympathy for that special little boy whose family members are deeply grieving his loss. They have created a GoFundMe campaign to cover the cost of Jordan’s funeral. As of this writing, the campaign has received donations totaling $9,144.
In the campaign, organizer and family member Tanisha Taylor wrote, “Jordan was shot and killed by a psycho step dad he thought loved him. Jordan was a loving kid who loved to play video games and basketball and enjoyed his family and friends. His life was taken way too soon…”
Jordan Mekhi Roberts was born on June 4, 2008 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas to mother Maranda Alford and father Gregory Roberts. He leaves behind six siblings: two brothers and a sister live in Pine Bluff, one brother lives in Little Rock, and he has sisters in North Carolina and Texas. At the time of his death, he was attending Western Hills Elementary School in Little Rock.
Jordan’s funeral was held on Saturday, May 9 at Powell Funeral Chapel in Kennett, Missouri. He was buried in Memorial Gardens Cemetery, also in Kennett.
Jordan’s parents spoke with Fox16 two days after their son’s death. Maranda said, “It touches my heart to see so many people, like people that don’t know Jordan, and how it affects them just as much as it affect us.”
Greg said, “He loves spending time with his sisters, he had friends, little cousins that was crazy about coming to see him.”
“Jordan, he had a heart of gold,” Maranda said. “He enjoyed playing the Xbox and basketball… those are the two things he loved the most.”
“He was just a lovable kid, you know,” Greg added. “People that didn’t even too much knew him but would just see him around… had love for him.”
Maranda fondly recalls, “Taking him to the derby was a memory for me, because I could actually see his face light up; he was actually excited about that.”
They want everyone to remember Jordan for the beautiful spirit he had and the person he truly was.
“The instant you’d see him then interact with him, you’d love him. You gonna love his spirit,” Greg said. “He’s just that type of child. He’s just got that about him, that love.”
One of Jordan’s family members posted this sweet video of the much younger boy showing off some dance moves.
Since I have a son only six months older than Jordan, this story hurt a little more than most. Kids this age are just coming into their sense of self and independence. Many of them still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. They have a million percent faith that their families will support and protect them at all costs. I just hope Jordan did not have time to experience the pain, fear, and betrayal that Brent Martin’s horrific acts would have caused.
Unlike many of the children I feature on this blog and on Suffer the Little Children Podcast, Jordan was not raised in a neglectful or abusive environment by parents or caretakers who could not and did not meet even his most basic needs. He was clearly a child who lived his entire life surrounded by loving and supportive family, but even that couldn’t insulate him from this single, catastrophically abusive event.
Between a child who is chronically abused and then murdered and a child who is raised in a nurturing home only to be slain without warning, I don’t know which scenario is more tragic, to be honest. In this case, there can never be justice, and I can’t imagine how frustrating that is for Jordan’s family.
I want to believe that wherever he is, Jordan has made fast friends with other kids his age that I’ve written about — Eduardo Posso, Alex Hurley, and Logan Cline immediately come to mind. I can picture them huddled around an Xbox, giggling, or gathered on a basketball court, shouting and making the random noises only boys that age seem to be capable of. They all deserved to enjoy the twilight of their childhoods and to see the sun rise on their teenage years; they were full of promise, love, and unlimited potential. My heart breaks for each and every one of them, as it does for every child whose story I have covered.
Rest well, Jordan. You are and will always be truly loved.
Click here for any future updates on Jordan’s story.
Sources: PEOPLE, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, The Associated Press, The Daily Mail, Powell Funeral & Cremation Services, Fox16, GoFundMe, Facebook