Parkland shooting victim remembered as ‘gentle giant’

To say Daniel Mosley was a shy guy would be an understatement.

An anxiety disability kept the 20-year-old Parkland man from speaking with many people. It was just two years ago he was able to talk to his grandma. He first said hello to his girlfriend of 3½ years via text message.

At 6-feet-4, Mosley could look intimidating. His giant frame, however, just highlighted his sensitivity.

Loved ones described him as a gentle giant, a deep thinker with a kind heart, a quiet man who despised violence.

His family can’t fathom why someone would pull up beside Mosley’s car as he drove home Monday night and shoot him in the head.

“That’s the part that hurts, to know that someone killed my son,” Scotty Mosley said. “Daniel didn’t bother anybody. I’m going to miss him so much.”

Pierce County sheriff’s detectives believe Mosley was targeted but do not know why. They’re looking into the possibility of a road-rage incident.

Mosley was gunned down on Ainsworth Avenue South between 112th and 114th Avenues South shortly after leaving his girlfriend’s house. After being shot, Mosley lost control of his vehicle and hit two parked cars and a mailbox before his car landed upside down. He died at the scene.

Witnesses saw a white mid-sized sedan speed off, but they were too focused on calling 911 to jot down a license-plate number. No one has been arrested.

Mosley was the youngest of five children in a tight-knit family. He attended Washington High School and graduated from Gates High School last year. Although he was working as a pizza-delivery man, Mosley dreamed of being a music producer and spent hours creating beats.

His favorite artist, Tech N9ne, will dedicate his April 24 show in Seattle to Mosley’s memory. Mosley and his girlfriend, Mandy Rhodes, bought tickets months ago.

The couple went to school together, but Mosley never had the courage to approach her. The summer after her freshman year, Mosley sent a text message. Rhodes responded, even though she thought of him as “that quiet guy with the fro.”

He won her over.

“He was just my best friend. He is my best friend,” she said through tears. “He’s indescribable because he’s just such a special person. He’s just a genuine person with a heart of gold. I wish he was still here.”

Rhodes now wears daily the necklace and sterling silver bracelet Mosley bought her. She likes feeling him close. But it breaks her heart to know they’ll never get married or sit in his car listening to music or spend hours talking.

That’s the last thing they did together.

Mosley stopped by her house Monday to say goodnight. He played Rhodes a few beats, they chatted and then they parted ways because they both had to get up early for work.

“I’m just happy I got that last, ‘I love you,’ and kiss from him,” she said. “You don’t know how important little things are until that’s all you have left from someone.”

“I love you” is also the last thing he said to his mother, Cindy Mosley, before he left home that night for Rhodes’ house.

She struggles knowing her son died blocks from home. She hugged the people at the scene who tried to help Mosley, who gave her information about what happened, who prayed with her when she realized her son was gone. She tries not to imagine the pain and fear he went through in his last moments.

Instead, Cindy Mosley remembers the good times with her youngest child.

“In the last year, he has developed a love of learning that was unprecedented in his life,” she said. “He wanted to know everything.”

Mosley studied philosophy, mythology archeology, religion. He dug deep into his ancestry and found a fierce pride in his Scottish heritage. He talked about getting the family clan tattooed on his forearm.

Family members said Mosley was starting to overcome his shyness, that he was becoming a man.

There were still parts, though, that reached back to his childhood, that made his parents chuckle.

Mosley’s father still thought of him as Baby Huey, the gigantic duckling cartoon character. He still called him “buddy.” Mosley would still warm his father’s spot in bed before he got home from work. He hated getting dirty. When helping to change a flat tire, he would run inside to wash his hands each time he got a speck of dirt on them.

Those who knew him said he hated violence and tried to deter fighting. Once, at school, he walked up and bear-hugged a guy who was fighting a fellow student. Then he walked away.

It hurts Mosley’s family that he was taken by violence, and they’re pleading with anyone who might information about the shooting to come forward.

But they’re grateful for the outpouring of love and support they’ve seen from the community.

“What Daniel wanted more than anything was to live in a community where he felt safe, where people cared about each other,” Cindy Mosley said. “Daniel, you did make a difference. This tragedy is not in vain.”