Latasha Alston insisted Friday she was shocked by the turn of events that led to Derek Walker's shooting Tuesday in downtown Durham, a tragedy that stunned the city of Durham as Walker held a gun to his head near the city's iconic bull statue.
Alston said she first learned of the event when her sister called her Tuesday afternoon.
"She said, ‘You need to look at the news.' Immediately my heart stopped. I said, ‘Why do I need to look at the news,'" Alston said.
"I saw my son's dad downtown with a gun in his hand."
A Durham police officer shot Walker, who died later that day at the hospital. Friends said he was distraught that Alston was making it difficult to see their son, and he had taken to Facebook to say, "I hope I die very soon and a fast death because this world I live in is sorry."
In the post, Walker, 26, painted a bleak picture of a man who had lost custody of his son following a bitter custody battle.
"I can't take [what] my son's mother is putting me through," Walker wrote. "She has filled [my son's] head up with so much false stuff. He has told me I'm a bad father, I'm not a good dad."
But Alston, in an extended interview Friday, said she is not on Facebook and had no idea Walker was so upset.
She also gave extensive details about their relationship. WNCN has obtained court records that show a long history of court involvement in the care of their son, dating back to only months after he was born in the fall of 2007.
Alston said they were last in court Aug. 30.
She said they had an upcoming pretrial conference Oct. 8 on some issues, and she wondered if he received some paperwork on Monday. The notice of the hearing was mailed from the courthouse last Wednesday.
She said someone was claiming their son on taxes and they were trying to get to the bottom of it in the upcoming court date.
She also said Alston was "acting out" at the son's school, telling teachers he was the primary parent of their son.
She said she told him about those issues Thursday of last week.
She said she was stunned by Walker's comments on Facebook.
"I read the most hurtful things ever," she said. "He said I was putting him through this and that. He said I fed my son with all these lies, that he's a bad dad."
But Alston said her son would come back from visits with his dad with a big smile.
"I don't have any animosity toward Derek. I never had any hatred toward Derek. That's the father of my son," she said.
Alston said the two met at a funeral, when he was working for a funeral home. She was playing the drums at the funeral.
"When he entered, I think we both connected eyes," she said.
They started dating after that.
"He really got me out of my shell," she said. "He was a real good person. People liked him."
They dated several months and she became pregnant. They broke up before the birth.
They learned to parent together, she said, in part through family court, as documents show.
"It was a learning experience for the both of us because it was my first child. It was his first child," she said. "We both loved him. We both wanted him.
"What family and friends don't know is we went out on dates. Sometimes he would call me late at night just to talk."
Her son, she said, is very much like the father.
"They act just alike. They smile just alike. They have those thick eyebrows, those ears and they walk just alike. I'm just looking at this, like, ‘Gosh, this is amazing. Like, my son's getting to know his dad. Dad is getting to know his son.'
"Beautiful to me," she said.
But as documents show, the two were in court often, including Aug. 30.
"He was just like, ‘No. I feel like you're taking him from me.' I'm like, ‘I'm not taking him from you. He's in school now. We have to focus on his studies,'" she said.
She said Derek wanted their son every other week, but she did not feel that was stable.
She said she never filed for full custody.
"I would tell him, ‘You're going to get subpoenaed for such and such and he'll say, ‘OK, fine, you're going to get subpoenaed for such and such.'"
As for what happened to Walker, Alston said, "I don't blame myself for this at all. I don't blame myself. I can't blame myself. Why should I blame myself for it? We have a child. We're not the only ones going through family court."
A funeral for Walker will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at Fisher Memorial United Holy Church.