FORT WORTH — A wrestling exhibition at Fossil Ridge High School Saturday was as much a display of strength as it was a show of compassion.
"I think it lets the family know they have a lot of people behind them, and we are here for them," said Dawn Holland, who — along with hundreds of others — watched wrestlers go at it in support of Gary Heard and his family.
Heard's son, 20-year-old Dammion, was a star wrestler from Fossil Ridge who had earned a scholarship to Western State Colorado University. He was found dead outside Gunnison, Colorado in April.
The family says police in Colorado told them Dammion had hanged himself; they dispute that finding.
“It’s not the Dammion I know — what they’re saying — that’s for sure, said UFC fighter and famikly friend Johnny Bedford, who attended Saturday's exhibition. "I think we all want answers."
A few things have raised suspicion among Dammion’s friends and family members.
They learned after his death that he had been involved in a fight the night he disappeared, and that he filled up his car’s gas tank just before he died.
Those who knew him are certain that the happy young man had no intention of ending his life.
“You don’t get where Dammion was by being weak-minded; you don’t get where he was being a quitter," Gary Heard said. "And still to this day we have yet to uncover one thing that put him in that state of mind. Nothing at all points to suicide at all.”
Heard said the afternoon of wrestling matches was held to raise money. “To pay our investigators... our forensic investigators back at home here, and just trying to get some answers to exactly what happened to Dammion," the elder Heard said.
Tens of thousands of dollars have already been spent as the Heard family and the community around them vow to go to the mat to pin down the truth about exactly what happened to Dammion.
The young man's father was upbeat about the wrestling exhibition and what it means. "It makes me feel great; just a reminder of how great he was and what an inspiration he was,” Gary Heard said.
Dammion's father said it took almost six weeks, but Dammion's cell phone has finally been unlocked by investigators. They are hoping its contents will shed new light on the investigation in the days ahead.