Arkansas man shot to death in mysterious incident at boss’ home

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Ernest and Nikki Hoskins and Alexis Bishop, their adopted daughter

Ernest and Nikki Hoskins and Alexis Bishop, their adopted daughter

Arkansas state police are investigating the shooting death of a Little Rock man who was fatally shot during a lunch at his boss’ home.

Police responded to the home of Chris Reynolds on Friday, November 9th, after Reynolds allegedly called police to report he’d shot 21-year-old Ernest Hoskins Jr.

Hoskins and three other employees of Raynell Industries, a green technology firm, were attending a lunch at Reynolds’ home near Ward, Arkansas. According to Ben Crump, a lawyer for Hoskins’ mother and his widow, the family was told that at some point during the lunch, Reynolds allegedly produced a 44 Magnum Desert Eagle pistol, pointed it at Hoskins, and pulled the trigger, fatally wounding his young employee in the jaw.

“For whatever reason, he pointed the gun at the only African-American guy at the table,” Crump told theGrio, adding that two weeks later, Reynolds has still not been arrested.

“Ernest was the only man in his family,” Crump said. “His mother has two daughters, his father died” years earlier.

“In any jurisdiction in the world, even in Arkansas, this should have resulted in arrest,” Crump said.

Hoskins’ widow, Nikkisha, 25, who goes by Nikki is an Army specialist based at Camp Robinson, near Little Rock. She and Hoskins had wed privately in July, and were planning a big wedding ceremony for extended family and friends in December, with a pre-wedding party planned for November 17th.

“Instead, the guests for that wedding party attended a funeral,” Crump said. “And Nikki has got a wedding dress that she’s never gonna get to wear.”

Crump added that the shooting took place just before Veterans Day, “with Nikki serving in the U.S. Army.”

Nikki Hoskins told theGrio Friday that Ernest loved his job, and got along well with Reynolds.

“He brought us gifts, he invited us over to his house for dinner numerous times” she said of Reynolds, adding that her husband and his boss “seemed to have a very good relationship between the two of them.”

Neither Nikki nor Hoskins’ mother, Monica Hoskins, noticed any outward signs of trouble. And Monica said her son was relieved to find a job that would help him provide for his family.

Hoskins was completing a degree at the University of Phoenix and his wife was a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. They were. Adoptive parents to a young girl initially taken in by Nikki.

Both Monica and Nikki Hoskins expressed disappointment with what they have been told so far by police.

“I talked to a detective, and all they can tell me is it’s an ongoing investigation,” Monica Hoskins said.

“I got a phone call telling me to come home, and I thought it was a joke at first,” Nikki Hoskins said of her initial contact with police. “They called me by my (full) name so I was like, maybe this is serious. But it didn’t really dawn on me that something was wrong until I called my husband’s cellphone and it went to voicemail. I went home and saw the trooper’s car in the driveway.”

Nikki Hoskins said police told her Hoskins was killed “by his boss” but that “the man doesn’t know why he killed my husband.”

“I felt like I died,” she added. “You couldn’t have told me my husband was not going to come home today because I would have called you a liar.”

The family is demanding an arrest in the case. Two witnesses to the shooting have reportedly spoken with the Hoskins family.

TheGrio contacted Arkansas state police seeking comment but were told the office responsible for investigations in the Ward area would be closed until Monday.

Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @thereidreport