Alisa Mackey was facing a lot of life changes, both positive and negative, in the weeks leading up to her death, her mother said Monday.
On the one hand, Mackey, 29, recently found out she was getting a promotion at Frito-Lay that involved an hourly pay raise of several dollars, said her mother, Kay Rushing. She was also enjoying watching her two children, 2-year-old Zarrie and 6-year-old Kyle, grow up.
“You could see the glow in her eyes,” said her stepfather, Ken Davis. “She was preparing to buy a home.”
But Mackey was also facing a difficult decision: Whether or not to end a declining relationship with the father of her younger child.
Mackey was shot to death on Sunday. Her longtime boyfriend, 27-year-old Cameron Phillips, is believed to have killed her before taking his own life.
Rushing said her daughter had visited in recent weeks, crying about how discouraged she was that she couldn’t help her boyfriend. The pair had known each other for years and had been dating for about five years, Rushing said.
“I didn’t ever see her breaking down like that before because she was a very private person,” Rushing said.
Although the couple had lived together previously, Phillips moved into his own place about a year ago, Rushing said. During the last six months, Rushing said, her daughter thought “he’d just changed.”
Phillips didn’t want to see his daughter, Zarrie, as much, Rushing said. And he started to isolate himself more.
“She didn’t know how to help him because he was going through some stuff,” Rushing said.
Rushing remembers telling her daughter that she couldn’t help him if he wasn’t willing to help himself.
“I told her that she just needed to distance herself from him,” she said.
Civil records don’t indicate that there were any issues between Mackey and Phillips. Phillips had a conviction from a 2012 DWI. He was also charged in 2008 with assault on a female, although that was dismissed. Court records do not indicate whether it was Mackey or another woman in that case.
On Sunday morning, neighbors reported gunshots and police were dispatched to Mackey’s apartment on Perth Court in east Charlotte, just off Milton Road near Julian Underwood Park.
When police arrived, they found Mackey on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound and her toddler by her side, her mother said. Mackey was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where she later died.
“It was terrible she witnessed this, all of this hatred,” Rushing said, adding that Mackey’s son was visiting with a relative at the time.
After finding Mackey, police went to Phillips’ apartment about a mile away on John Penn Circle. A SWAT team was called, but Phillips was found dead inside.
Rushing said her family learned about the attack when her younger daughter, Sharese, stopped by Mackey’s home on Easter Sunday.
“They were very close but they hadn’t talked in a while,” Rushing said. “So she went by there to surprise her.”
Rushing said she’s still trying to grasp the fact that her firstborn is dead and her two grandchildren are without their mother.
“She just wanted to have a happy life,” Rushing said. “She tried to have a happy life with him but it just wasn’t working out. He was becoming somebody totally different, just a stranger.”
On Monday, she described Mackey as a “wonderful daughter, hard worker and a great mom.”
“She spent every second she had trying to make her kids smile and playing with them and taking them to the park,” Rushing said.
She also described how Mackey loved taking photographs of her family and drawing in her free time.
“She didn’t bother anyone. She loved life. She loved being happy,” Rushing said. “I just don’t know how someone could kill her. I can’t understand.”
Staff researcher Maria David contributed