She’d already picked the dress she planned to wear for her spring wedding, and on the day she was fatally shot on the job, De’Angela Richardson won approval for a bank loan to set her up in the real estate business she dreamed would launch a new life for her and her family.
Until then, Richardson, 42 and known to all as “Angie,” worked in an office for someone else as a property manager — and it was there, say Detroit police, where two men who appeared to be in their late teens entered the building just before 3:30 p.m. Oct. 4 , corralled Richardson and another person into a room, and fired the bullet that killed her.
Richardson, who leaves a heartbroken 7-year-old son and a devastated fiancé, died six days later.
“It looks like they were probably looking for something,” a Detroit police spokesman tells PEOPLE about the suspects, who remain unidentified and at large. But it remains unclear what, exactly, the suspects were looking for.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
“I loved her spirit, her smile, how she loved to joke around and make everything good,” says Andre Arrington, 46, her fiancé, who was working on renovations in the basement of the building when the shooting occurred and was one of the first on the scene.
“Even arguments were ‘good’ arguments,” he says. “She wouldn’t let me pass unless I kissed her.”
Theirs was “the best relationship I’ve ever been in in my life,” he says.
They’d met more than 25 years ago, when both worked at a Detroit hotel. Angie was then 17, and Andre was on a medical leave when she started, but his brother and a friend who also worked at the hotel quickly told him about the new girl. “They knew she was my type,” he says. “She was not shy at all.”
At the time, she had a boyfriend and he had a girlfriend. But they grew into “real cool friends” until, both single a few years later, they began a relationship. Later they went their separate ways and each had a child with another partner. But they got back together and declared to each other that they were an item on Oct. 1, 2017.
“I asked her to marry me 30 days after that,” Andre says.
“I’ve always loved you, Arrington,” she told him. He says: “She never called me by my first name. She wanted to make sure I was ready. She didn’t want to lose our friendship.”
Wedding plans were put on hold last year after her dad died from bone cancer, and Angie shifted her attention to her surviving mom. A mom herself to son R.J., now 7, she supported him in all his endeavors like baseball, Cub Scouts and after-school programs. She and R.J. shared a home with Andre and his 8-year-old son.
The couple re-set their wedding day for May 16, 2020.
Meanwhile she was learning the real estate business from the inside, managing more than 200 rental units at three sites. She aspired to buy and run her own properties.
“She had big dreams,” says Andre. “She was a real go-getter. The day she got shot was the day one of her loans got approved.”
After she died — with clothes she’d ironed for R.J. still tucked into his dresser — her son grabbed a pencil and wrote her a note. “I love you so much,” it says. “You have done so much for me and I know you love me to. Come back to me PLEASE. I will love you for the rest of my life. Your favorite son, RJ.”
Says Andre: “For the moment he’s pretty good. We’re just showering him with love right now, keeping him together. And our friends have been amazing. You don’t know how many friends you have until something like this happens.”
“Everybody that encountered her loved her,” he says.
Police say they are looking for two African American males, both around 19 and with thin builds, one with a dark complexion and the other with a light complexion.
The family has set up a fundraising page in memory of Angie to help pay for funeral arrangements.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detroit police at 313-596-2260 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.