Once highly-feared Detroit drug world enforcer Charles (Chuckie Lights Out) Hardaway was killed ten years ago this week, only days after being released from prison on a narcotics trafficking conviction he served almost two decades behind bars for. The 48-year old Hardaway was shot to death in the parking lot of a suburban Detroit shoe store on April 10, 2007 over the belief that he had murdered a family member of his assailants.

In the 1980s, Hardaway worked as a top lieutenant for Demetrius Holloway, the Motor City’s biggest drug kingpin of the crack era, slain himself in a brazen assassination at a popular downtown Detroit men’s clothier. Hardaway, nicknamed for his reputation for turning his victim’s lights out, went to prison shortly after the eastside-based Holloway was slain gangland style in the fall of 1990. He had been Holloway’s bodyguard. The two men were brother-in-laws, with Holloway being married to Hardaway’s sister Wanda.

“The Holloway group was a force, they rose fast and for a short period of time mastered the crack game,” retired Detroit DEA chief Robert DeFauw recalls. “That particular gang had the finances down tight, they knew how to funnel illicit gains into legitimate income sources and they had the intimidation factor (guys like Hardaway and Cliff Jones and his “Monster Squad”), eastside street cred that went along way for them.”

During the late 1980s, the Holloway drug organization fought a war with a renegade murder-for-hire team known as the Best Friends Gang. Led by the four tall, beefy and bloodthirsty Brown brothers, the Best Friends Gang began as the enforcement wing of Holloway’s crew, but soon started chafing under Holloway’s thumb and the financial limitations of just doing strong arm work and wanted in on the drug game.

When the Best Friends branched off on their own, they butted heads with their former boss and bodies were dropping by the end of 1986 – two of the Brown brothers, Gregory (Ghost) Brown and Ezra (Wizard) Brown were killed in drive-by shootings in the same week. The slickly-attired, equally street and business-savvy Holloway staged his own kidnapping outside of a local fast-food hamburger stand to take cover from the bloodshed. On September 12, 1988, Holloway’s right-hand man Richard (Maserati Rick) Carter was shot in the head at close range in his hospital room where he was recovering from bullet wounds sustained in a shootout with rivals two days prior.

“Maserati Rick” Carter (left) & Demetrius Holloway (right)

Holloway himself got two bullets in the back of the head on October 8, 1990 while shopping at The Broadway clothing store, less than two blocks away from Detroit Police Headquarters and city hall. He was just 32. Cliff Jones allegedly assumed command of the Holloway organization in the aftermath of the Holloway homicide, however his reign lasted barely two years and he was indicted on drug and racketeering charges in the winter of 1993.

Hardaway was on the frontlines of the crack-trade violence in Detroit and made a considerable amount of enemies. Some were eagerly awaiting his return to the street in the late 2000s – specifically, the Moore family.

Before Hardaway went away as a guest of the government, he dated Tanya Moore, who was shot to death in early 1991 in the weeks surrounding Hardaway heading to prison for 17 years. The Moore family blamed Hardaway for Tanya’s slaying.

Upon “Chuckie Lights” walking free on March 29, 2007, Tanya’s brothers began plotting his murder. According to future court testimony, they started tracking his movements and found out he lived in a halfway house in Detroit and worked at his sister Wanda’s Sundance Shoes Outlet store in Ferndale, Michigan, one of the first suburbs north of the city limits.

On the late morning of April 10, 2007, Hardaway was sitting in the passenger’s seat of his cousin Eric Lewis’ Pontiac Grand Prix in front of Sundance Shoes when Robert Clark unloaded his 45-caliber semi-automatic handgun into the car, striking Hardaway four times. Clark fled on foot to a waiting Ford Explorer SUV driven by Tanya Moore’s half-brother Martin Pitts and Lewis took off to Beaumont Hospital four miles away. Hardaway died from injuries sustained in the shooting on the operating table.

Pitts was pulled over by police within minutes. He surrendered immediately, but Clark took off, ditched the murder weapon and was found shortly thereafter hiding in an industrial metal shed.

At Clark’s 2008 trial, Pitts appeared as the state’s star witness, testifying that he and his half-brother Maurice Moore promised Clark $50,000 for the hit on Hardaway. Clark, 38, was found guilty and is serving a life state prison sentence. Pitts, 37, got slapped with a 30-to-50 year sentence and won’t be eligible for parole until 2037. Maurice Moore was never charged in the case.

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