Fourth-grade teacher killed in Vinings carjacking worked to inspire

Fourth grade teacher Ricardo Knox was killed Monday night in an apparent carjacking outside his Vinings apartment.
Fourth grade teacher Ricardo Knox was killed Monday night in an apparent carjacking outside his Vinings apartment.

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

Ricardo Knox was making something of himself.

A fourth-grade teacher and burgeoning fashion designer, Knox lived by the mantra “if you don’t believe in yourself, no one will,” said his cousin, Tisa Smith. It was a lesson the 28-year-old tried to pass on to his students at T.H. Slater Elementary School in southwest Atlanta.

“He worked to inspire, because he himself was an inspiration,” Smith said.

On Monday night, Knox was ambushed and fatally shot when he returned home to his apartment at the Westhaven at Vinings complex off Cumberland Parkway. Authorities pronounced him dead at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

ExplorePolice investigating deadly shooting at Vinings apartments

Cobb County police believe Knox was the victim of a carjacking, according to spokesman Sgt. Wayne Delk. Smith said her family is relying on the police department to provide answers in his seemingly senseless death.

So far, they have none.

The teacher was ambushed and fatally shot when he returned home to his apartment at the Westhaven at Vinings complex off Cumberland Parkway.
The teacher was ambushed and fatally shot when he returned home to his apartment at the Westhaven at Vinings complex off Cumberland Parkway.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

To those who loved him, Knox was an example of how hard work and creativity pay off. He was a graduate of Benjamin E. Mays High School and returned to Atlanta Public Schools to teach after college at the University of West Georgia, according to his family.

Before beginning at Slater one year ago, Knox taught at Luther J. Price Middle School, Smith said.

“We grew up in southwest Atlanta, not very wealthy by any means financially, but certainly with a lot of love as a family,” she said. “His mission was to show other young, black children that you could rise above any circumstances as long as you worked hard.”

Ricardo Knox was known for his fashion sense and custom clothing creations. He was killed Monday after returning to his apartment at the Westhaven at Vinings community off Cumberland Parkway.
Ricardo Knox was known for his fashion sense and custom clothing creations. He was killed Monday after returning to his apartment at the Westhaven at Vinings community off Cumberland Parkway.

Knox inspired young minds in the classroom, but Smith said he was also constantly inspiring family and friends with his clothing creations ― customized sneakers, sweatshirts and other items he sold online. Smith said his apartment looked like a designer’s studio with an entire clothing collection now left unfinished.

“He was a force, and the world is going to be a lot dimmer without him being here,” she said.

His death remains under investigation. Delk said Thursday that detectives were “actively following up on leads.” Police have not released any further information about the fatal shooting or said if they are looking for Knox’s car.

A private funeral is planned for early next week in Atlanta. Smith said her family is also planning to honor Knox with a public memorial at a later date when they can do so safely.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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