CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A routine day took a terrible turn when a custody exchange ended with an Austin Peay State University student dead. Now, her family says justice must be served.
The shooting happened back in February in Madison County, about two hours from the Austin Peay campus in Clarksville.
A mother’s love is easy to talk about for Tarsha Harris, as she described how often she and her daughter would talk.
“More than two or three times, maybe five or six or more than that, because she would call me while she’s in class,” Harris said.
However, the hard part comes when she faces her new reality.
“Sometimes I just try to say, ‘Oh, she’s just at school,’ but knowing that I won’t ever talk to her again, it’s just been heartbreaking,” said Harris.
At just 22 years old, her daughter, Tyeasha Starks, was living what many would consider her best life.
“She was set to graduate with her biology major; she worked so hard for that degree,” Harris explained gleamingly.
Starks was a student at Austin Peay and was living in Clarksville. She would travel back and forth to Jackson due to her sharing custody of her 20-month-old son. It was on one of those days when things took a turn.
Starks was arguing with her son’s father and his family members when things got so tense that a friend, who was with Starks, handed her a stun gun for protection when shots were fired.
Audio was shared with News 2’s Mye Owens from one of the witnesses in the vehicle. The audio was taken by a friend who rode with Starks when an argument ensued in front of the home where her son was.
In the audio recording, you can hear gunshots being fired, screaming, and friends rushing to call the police.
Starks was able to make it back to the car with her friends and attempt to drive off before she died.
“It’s been a nightmare. I’ve been numb to the fact that this happened,” Harris said.
News 2’s sister station, WREG, contacted the Madison County Sheriff’s Office about the case. They sent us a press release saying, “The disturbance escalated and witnesses corroborated that Ms. Starks arrived with a stun gun and was actively arching the device when she was shot.”
The sheriff’s office told WREG that all the information had been turned over to the district attorney’s office, and any comment would have to come from them. WREG contacted Madison County District Attorney Jody Pickens, who said no decision has been made on charges, prompting Starks’ family to protest.
“The protest was just to get awareness and to get my daughter’s story out and to just, you know, get justice for my daughter, because a lot of people I feel like are trying to get my daughter’s story…I’m going to do whatever I have to do get her story out there and to get justice,” Harris explained.
Harris created a petition calling for justice in the case; that petition has received 4,000 signatures.
“I’m my daughter’s voice now; my daughter is not able to speak for herself, so I have to be strong and speak for my daughter and for my grandson,” Harris said.
Harris told News 2 they are now pursuing possible legal charges.