JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One year and two days after 20-year-old Daniel Rowe was shot and killed while taking out the garbage at a Riverside restaurant, Jacksonville police announced an arrest in the case.
Rowe was shot July 22, 2015, in an alley behind the Blind Rabbit, near the intersection of King and College streets, during what police described as a robbery attempt.
Monday afternoon, standing with Rowe's parents, JSO Director Tom Hackney announced an arrest in the case.
"It's taken a while, but I've got some answers," Hackney said, adding police took their time to build their case. "We don't want an arrest, we want a conviction."
Erron Coleman, 25, was charged with murder, plus armed robbery, burglary and weapons charges. Coleman has 12 previous felony convictions and was a suspect in a 2015 strong-arm robbery when a tip from an inmate led police to investigate his connection to Rowe's death.
"We knew they were out there working as hard as they possibly could to get to this point, so it’s a bittersweet day for us," said Raelyn Rowe, Daniel's mother.
She said she was grateful for the police, the Justice Coalition and the community for support, and even the media for not letting the case be forgotten.
Hackney said tips were key to breaking the case, but the investigation will not end until Coleman's accomplice is also in jail.
"As I’ve stood up before you many times in cases I say it’s that one little piece of the puzzle that we need," Hackney said. "And I ask for seemingly innocuous information to come forward, and in this case that one particular thing pointed us in the right direction."
The primary tip that led to this arrest will receive a $13,000 reward from Crime Stoppers, and a $3,000 reward is still available for tips leading to a second arrest. Callers can remain anonymous and still be eligible for the reward by calling 866-845-TIPS.
"These guys – JSO -- is not going to give up until they find him, and we’re going to be standing right behind them," Raelyn Rowe said.
Daniel Rowe's mother describes heart-breaking year without her son
Monday evening, Rowe's parents said they finally have some sense of peace knowing police had a suspect in custody.
After the news conference, Raelyn Rowe spoke with News4Jax about the heart-breaking year without her son.
"It's an indescribable journey of just learning how to survive. You have to learn how to rebuild a new normal," Raelyn Rowe said.
She said she and her husband took in her son's fiancee and his two little girls after her death. They were tasked with explaining to them what happened to their father.
"Amelia is still just a year and a half old. She doesn't even remember him at all. She was only 5 months old when this happened. Colby just turned 5. She has a lot of good memories with her dad," Raelyn Rowe said.
Raelyn Rowe said the announcement of Coleman's arrest was a welcome surprise. She said waiting for a break in the case made the healing process that much more difficult.
"Once you're in you're grieving process, you get to a point where you're just ready to move to the next step of it. And if nothing's happening, and you're just having to wait, that's really hard to get over that hump," she said.
Through it all, Raelyn Rowe said she's grateful to JSO, the community and everyone who has supported their family. She said never lost faith in the detectives working to find her son's killer.
"We knew they were out there working as hard as they possibly could to get to this point. So it's a bittersweet day and we have won. There's still more work to be done and we will stand behind them and let them do their jobs until we get to the end of it," Raelyn Rowe said.
The mother said she hopes the second person wanted in her son's death does the right thing and turns himself into police.