By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief
A NE Campus dance adjunct instructor was killed in the early morning of July 23 in Dallas, and no arrests have been made yet.
Darrell Cleveland, 45, had worked at TCC for the last year and was set to teach classes again this fall on NE, said longtime dance professor Linda Quinn.
Detective Duncan Wilkins of Dallas police confirmed Cleveland lost control of his car around 2:40 a.m. at the intersection of Ervay and Cadiz streets near City Hall.
First responders discovered Cleveland had been shot in the hip when they removed him from his vehicle, Wilkins said. Cleveland was then taken to a local hospital where he died.
Wilkins did not say whether police had any suspects at this time.
Dance faculty were shocked by news of Cleveland’s death.
“I can’t believe what happened to him,” dance professor Kihyoung Choi said.
Choi knew of him before he started working at TCC.
“I had heard things about him, all good things,” she said. “He was very inspirational.”
Cleveland was a well-known dancer and choreographer in the North Texas area, and when he applied to work at TCC, Choi wanted to meet him, she said.
“He was so passionate about teaching and was a perfect fit for our program and students,” she said.
In the spring, Cleveland taught two jazz classes and a performance class.
“He did a great job,” Choi said. “He challenged everyone. You could see the brightness he planted in his students.”
He was well liked by the students he taught in the spring, and many students were looking forward to working with Cleveland this fall, she said.
Choi recalled a time when Cleveland had been running late to class one Saturday morning due to traffic, and his students waited 45 minutes until he arrived without knowing if he would come, she said.
“They didn’t leave,” she said. “On a Saturday morning class, not one of them left. They all waited for him without knowing what happened or whether or not he would show up.”
All of his students were there waiting for him when he finally arrived, she said.
Choi was in Korea when she heard the news of his death.
“Two students texted me what had happened,” she said. “I felt like I had been struck by lightning. I couldn’t believe it.”
Choi had seen him right before she left for Korea and could not believe that would be the last time she saw him.
“I can’t put how I felt into words,” she said. “I just sat there, my heart aching.”
Choi will remember him as always smiling and how he used to tell her company members to, “live as if it was their last day.”
“He was like sunshine,” she said. “I can’t imagine he would have any enemies.”
Cleveland was set to teach three classes on NE this fall including the open community dance company again, said Quinn, who is now the NE communications, arts and entertainment dean.
Like Choi, Quinn was also shocked to learn of Cleveland’s death.
“I was heartbroken to find out Darrell was gone,” she said. “He was such a positive, warm and kind person. I was really sad that he died so young.”
Quinn said she enjoyed working with him.
“He was very supportive, very positive,” she said. “He lit up the room when he walked in.”
Cleveland created a safe and welcoming classroom atmosphere for all of his students, Quinn said.
“He was dedicated to meeting students where they are,” she said.
Anyone with information about this case can contact Dallas police.