MADISON, Ala. - On February 5th, 2010 a single gunshot from the halls of Discovery Middle School changed two families' lives forever. 14-year-old Todd Brown was walking down a hallway during class change when he was shot in the back of the head by 14-year-old Hammad Memon.
The motive is and always has been cloudy at best. The word 'gang' has been thrown around but never ultimately deemed a true threat by police. Mental health experts testified that Memon was convinced his only way out of said 'gang' was to kill Brown.
10-years later, the case has a long history with an impact that will never be forgotten.
Here's a brief timeline of events.
- Shooting happens around 1:45pm, February 5th 2010. Todd Brown dies shortly after being shot.
- 2012: Memon and his mother are arrested in Dallas, Texas after a judge revokes bond. They were found with money and Pakistani passports. Both Sofia Memon and Iqbal Memon are charged with hindering prosecution. They did not serve time in prison and had probation lifted so they could leave the U.S. for Pakistan.
- 2013: Hammah Memon takes a plea deal for 30-years in prison. Memon addresses the court saying in part, "I would like to beg for the family of Todd Brown to forgive me. I throw myself to the mercy of the court."
- 2017: Brown family wins civil suit. Memon ordered to pay 1 million dollars.
Memon is eligible for parole in early 2026. His childhood citizenship was tied to his parents who are no longer in the U.S. It is possible that he faces deportation if released.
Roughly 1,000 students attended Discovery Middle School in 2010. As parents ran to the school to reunite with their children, WHNT was there trying to gather more information. We interviewed Hannah Manis, who was in 7th grade at the time.
"It was very scary for us. They turned off all the lights. We got in the corner. Locked the doors.." said Manis, 10-years ago.
It's 2020 now. A lot has changed. Schools have beefed up security and the students impacted by this tragedy are now adults.
WHNT caught up with Manis who is in college, pursuing her dreams. Manis has not watched her interview since the day it aired. WHNT NEWS 19 reporter Ethan Fitzgerald played the old interview and asked her what she thought.
"Just thinking that I somehow processed that and was able to talk to someone and I think it just shows that you can run off adrenaline. I was shocked and confused. I didn't know anything at the time," said Manis.
As time has moved forward, Manis reflects on the experience when she drives by the spot where she reunited with a family friend.
"I don't know if I pushed it out of my mind or if I tried to forget that it happened. But 10-years..it hasn't felt like 10-years," said Manis.
When asked about any potential gang-related activities by students at Discovery Middle school, Manis says "I was not aware of an issue. I was in the 7th grade and they were in 9th. So we were in 2 different worlds. But I didn't know of any issue."
Outgoing Madison City Schools Superintendent, Robby Parker was principal at Bob Jones High School when the shooting happened.
"I thought I could control everything. The Lord has really humbled me being superintendent," said Parker.
Parker says school security was not a top priority back when he was a principle. Those days are long gone.
"I worry about the children every day. I worry about their safety. I worry about everything in the schools. Frankly, it's almost a burden that I will say is almost unmanageable," said Parker.
The Discovery shooting served as a catalyst for security upgrades district-wide.
"We got 11 schools and we got 11 SROs now. We have a mental health counselor at every single school. We hired a full-time safety and security coordinator, Dr. David West. That's all he does," said Parker.
Text to Protect was also launched immediately after the fatal shooting of Todd Brown. Students are given the number and it is posted all over the district. When a tip comes through, it is sent directly to police and district administrators. Years after the shooting, a man with a gun was on the Discovery Middle School campus when a tip came in.
"We get a lot of texts to protect. Thankfully, 99 percent are not something life-threatening," said Parker.
As far as the potential of parole for Memon, both Parker and Manis seem to be on the same page.
"I believe in our legal system. I would just have to leave that up to the legal system," said Parker.
"I have faith in the justice system. I believe that's the least that they can do for the family who has lost someone so special to them," said Manis.
WHNT has been in contact with Todd Brown's grandmother. She told us every day the family looks at pictures of Brown and wonders what would Brown be doing today? What would he be like?
Todd Brown's grandmother says there isn't a day that they don't think of what could have been.