Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Four years later, no closure in case of Homecoming shooting

Conrad Hollis’ first homecoming at the Capstone was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

On Oct. 28, 2006, after a night spent with friends at a homecoming concert, Hollis was shot and killed in his driveway on Orange Street. He was dead at 21.

While leaving the concert, Hollis and his friends were involved in a minor traffic accident. After both parties involved in the accident agreed that the damage done to the vehicles didn’t warrant filing a police report, Hollis and the driver of the other vehicle returned to their cars and went their separate ways.

What ensued after that point still remains a mystery to police and the Hollis family nearly four years later.

Investigators believe that the driver of a 1995-1999 Chevrolet Cavalier followed Hollis to his home after the accident and shot him after he stepped out of his vehicle.

Despite eyewitness reports, an enhanced vehicle description from the FBI forensic laboratory in Quantico, Va., and a $20,000 reward, no arrests have been made in the case now known as the Homecoming homicide.

All his family and friends have are memories.

Friend not forgotten

Hollis grew up in New Hope, Miss., where he spent most days fishing alongside his best friend, Justin Atkins, who grew up just four doors down from the Hollis family.

He said he spent Saturday afternoons during bow hunting season with Hollis, patiently waiting for a deer — or anything that resembled a deer — to trot out of the woods.

“Once bow season came around, Conrad and I would strap on the camouflage and face paint and go out and kneel down next to this dried-up pond beside a tree and wait,” Atkins said. “There was really no point in it, because we had seen maybe one deer there in our entire life, but Conrad was determined he was gonna kill one.”

After many unsuccessful attempts, Hollis had a clear shot from 30 yards away on a wide-eyed, unsuspecting doe.

“I looked Conrad in the eye and I said, ‘This is the moment of truth man, are you ready?’”

With his hands trembling and his heart pounding, Hollis cocked back the bowstring and took dead aim.

And he missed.

“I think we were both just so overwhelmed that there was actually a deer standing in front of us, that the pressure must’ve gotten to him.

“After that we both laid on the ground laughing hysterically because that’s all we could do. It was the most exciting hunting trip of my life, and we didn’t even kill anything.”

He said Hollis was four years older, but never treated Atkins poorly because of the gap.

“He never let me fall, he was always my guide, and I’ll always appreciate the relationship that we had,” Atkins said.

A truck, a decision and a new perspective

Sara Hollis, Hollis’ mother, has one lasting impression of the tan Chevy pickup truck that he nurtured like a newborn child.

“It was definitely a teenager’s truck,” Hollis said. “It was a stick shift for one, so I couldn’t drive it, but it had flames down the side and on the interior, and Conrad always had his music blaring — trying to impress the girls.”

She said they never did figure what he actually preferred to listen to. Depending on the girl, he would select a specific CD to play with the windows down, nodding to the beat while he drove.

Immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, Hollis joined the National Guard. He told his parents that he had been called to serve, and he did it with a proud smile on his face.

Eric Hollis, Hollis’ father, was proud of his son, who at 19 entered the war in Iraq in 2004 as the youngest member of the 114th Field Artillery Unit.

“Growing up, Conrad was always the type of guy who defended everyone,” Eric Hollis said. “He got suspended from school once for fighting someone that was picking on one of his friends.”

While serving his tour of duty oversees, Hollis was given the task of pulling a headless member of his own unit out of a tank that had been hit by an improvised explosive device.

“That really got to Conrad,” he said. “To be 19 years old and have to do something like that really changed his life. The guy who was killed was a young man, too.”

The return home

Hollis returned home from Iraq in December 2005, a war veteran. Before he went off to war, he was uncertain of his future, but after returning home, he decided to go to college and study forensic sciences. He wanted to be in the FBI.

“When he got back from Iraq, he sat us both down and had a heart-to-heart with us and told us his plans,” Sara said. “Conrad said, ‘Mom, I know that you and Dad love me because you put boundaries around us for a reason, and now I can appreciate that, and I just want to say thank you. You have always raised us to show respect for people, get an education and stand on our own two feet.”

The final chapter

Every day that Sara Hollis walks into her son’s room in New Hope, she sees his National Guard uniform still hanging on the wall. She sees his favorite red polo that he wore for every Alabama football game.

She picks up the album with a stitched cross on the cover and thumbs through pictures of the boy who never stopped smiling, knowing he’s in a better place.

She remembers her son.

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