DURHAM — When Tracy Daquan Bost was booked into the Durham County jail on May 2, he gave as his address an unoccupied county government building on Mahaley Avenue in downtown Salisbury where his social workers office used to be.
For Bost, questions about his home address and family were complicated.
He was 3 when police walked into a Rowan County hotel room and took him from his drug-addicted mother. From that moment, he was shuttled between foster and group homes, juvenile detention halls, jails and prisons for nearly 20 years before he fired a shotgun at three N.C. Central University police officers on Sept. 23 and was killed in a hail of gunfire.
Bost was 7 when he was adopted by Raymond and Lisa Bost in Salisbury. The couple had two daughters, ages 10 and 8, but they wanted a son. The first time they saw Bost, he was attending a camp for foster children in Charlotte. The couples optimism did not fade when social workers in Rowan County told them his mother had smoked crack cocaine while she was pregnant.
He was just as cute, acted good and everything for a while, said Raymond Bost, 50, who now lives in Charlotte. He fit right into our family, you know what I mean? Then we got him home and whooooo.
The child started misbehaving. One day, Tracy stepped from behind a curtain at home and hit one of his sisters in the head with a plastic baseball bat.
By the time he reached middle school, he was getting into fights. At home, he would throw things when he was angry. He was frequently suspended from school. Raymond and Lisa Bost took him to doctors, who prescribed Ritalin.
Even with the medicine, Tracy would still do the same thing, Raymond Bost said. He didnt want to mind and follow the rules. When he got mad, he started slinging stuff.
The family moved to Georgia, and the Bosts enrolled their 10-year-old son in a yearlong boot camp for troubled boys.
He did OK, said his foster sister, Shanquena Bost, 26, of Charlotte. But then Tracy would just act out: fighting, stealing, misbehaving in school. He didnt do the gun stuff until he got older.
Raymond Bost said the family was still in Georgia when the teen started jumping out of his bedroom window at night. Things came to a head when the teen jumped out the window and ended up at a police station, where he told officers he didnt want to live with the family anymore.
My ex-wife got tired, Raymond Bost said. She said Tracy was doing everything. She was ready to take him back to Salisbury to the Department of Social Services.
The Bosts returned to Rowan County and relinquished custody but tried to remain in his life. Their troubles with him continued. Raymond Bost says Tracy stole his wifes car and sold it to a neighbor for $100.
Stealing, fighting, starting fights, but we were still crazy about him, Raymond Bost said. When he would see me, he would never call me by my name. He always called me dad.
An awful start
Tracy Bost was born in March 1991. He didnt remember much about his early life.
From what he told me, a social worker told him that his (biological) parents left him in a hotel room by himself, said Hailey Rowell, the mother of Bosts 4-year-old son. All he remembered was the police coming into the hotel and taking him away.
Raymond and Lisa Bost gave the child their last name, but what the child had endured during the short time he was with his biological parents had begun to shape him. Rowell said one of Bosts foster sisters told her that he would hide food in his bedroom because he didnt know when he was going to eat again.
After the Bosts gave up custody of Tracy, Betty Jo Brown of Spencer took him in. He was about 15; he sang in the school choir, loved playing pickup games of basketball and followed Browns rule to be home by 11 p.m. He loved to sing, entered school talent shows and sang in the church choir. The teen flourished, albeit briefly.
She really loved him so much like he was her own, Rowell said. But at that point, there had been so much bad in his life, and he didnt know how to change it.
Brown could not be reached for comment.
Bosts foster brother introduced him to Rowell on his 17th birthday in March 2008. She was also 17.
Them green eyes, oh my God, she said. The second I saw him, I was mesmerized by his eyes.
He said being with me was the best thing that ever happened to him, which is pretty sad.
The two became inseparable. They saw each other every day. Rowell remembers calling him before school each morning, during breaks and before choir practice in the afternoons.
He acted like nothing bothered him, Rowell said. He just went with the flow.
Trouble with the law
But Bost was battling demons fueled by anger and run-ins with the law. John Basinger, a Rowan County public defender, remembers seeing Bost regularly in the countys juvenile system.
Five months after Bost met Rowell, police charged him with stealing a firearm. While awaiting trial, he dropped out of school. Brown, his foster mom, kicked him out after the police found the stolen gun at her house. Bost told Rowell that he slept in cars that had been left unlocked at night and on friends couches.
Bost and Rowell had fallen in love. They dreamed of growing up and old together in a big white house with blue shutters and a white picket fence. By late November 2008, the couple learned Rowell was three months pregnant.
I didnt know how he was going to react, so I put the pregnancy test on the front seat of my dads car, Rowell said. He called his brother. He was so excited.
Bost, with a pregnant girlfriend, figured he needed cash. Fast.
It was after midnight on Dec. 2, 2008, when Rowell got behind the wheel of her fathers Cadillac to drive Bost and an accomplice to a mobile home in Salisbury. Rowell sat for about 15 minutes before her partners walked out carrying shotguns. She popped open the trunk, and the boys put the firearms inside.
There was someone in the house, Rowell said. He was asleep. The guns were in a cabinet. Why did I do it? Neither of us had jobs. I was pregnant. He said we had to get us some money. I drove, because if he had drove, he would have been charged with stealing my daddys car.
Rowells mother found the guns the next day and called the police. Rowell spent 30 days in jail and was eventually sentenced to probation. Bost was convicted and remained in prison until one week before his sons first birthday in May 2010.
Rowell has pictures of that day. Bost was a tall, lanky guy who looked like a young Smokey Robinson, with a head of neat, jet-black curly hair and large green eyes. He is sitting next to his son, wearing a birthday hat.
Rowell noticed that prison had changed Bost. His temper had gotten worse, and he was easily agitated. He could not sleep unless it was dead silence.
It was easier for him to get mad. You couldnt walk up behind him. He would swing forcefully, like he was trying to hit you, Rowell said.
Time in prison
Bost had a tough time with prison. During the year and a half behind bars, he disobeyed orders from staff at the Polk Correctional Institution in Butner and spent 100 days in restrictive custody, including solitary confinement and restrictions that forced him to remain in his cell 23 hours a day, state records show.
The tough times continued when he came home. He tried to find work at warehouses in Rowan County. A warehouse in Statesville called him in for an interview but decided against hiring him. His criminal record was catching up with him.
My dad was pretty much supporting us, Rowell said. (Tracy) said it made him feel very inadequate that he couldnt take care of us.
Bost started breaking into houses where guns were kept.
That just seemed to be his thing, Rowell said. Rob somebody. Break into houses. Steal guns. He said it was fast money and good money.
Bost failed a drug test after a meeting with his probation officer in June 2010 and was behind with his probation payments. His probation officer determined Bost had violated the conditions of his probation and sent him back to prison. He was released Sept. 1, 2011.
The reunited couple started arguing. Bost hit her. The two broke up around October 2011.
Four months later, on Valentines Day, Bost visited Rowell. The two talked for a while before she went to bed. The next morning, just after dawn, Bost called and told her he was in jail. Police had pulled him over after a high-speed chase and found that he had nine bags of marijuana, Rowell said.
He stayed in prison until January of this year. Rowell noticed Bost had changed again after prison, but for the better.
It was like 2008 all over again, she said. They had grown up, but the two started dreaming again of growing old together.
Bost found work at a shoe warehouse in Salisbury. He had been home for two weeks and working for a week when he collided again with trouble.
Bost had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet as a condition of his release from prison. He was living with a friend in public housing where a fight broke out. Someone fired gunshots in Bosts direction. He took off running.
He ran too far, and his bracelet went off, Rowell said. His probation officer ordered him back to the apartment. (He) thought they were going to arrest him, so he cut off the bracelet. They found him the next day.
After a week in the Rowan County jail, Bost was sent to Polk Correctional Institution for 90 days. He was released and sent to Durham on May 2 to serve another sentence for assaulting a correction officer in Rowan County. That was the day he listed his address as the old social services building in downtown Salisbury.
Bost was released from the Durham County jail on Sept. 22, a Sunday, at 11 a.m. He called Rowell just after 11:40 a.m. and told her he had benefited from his time in the Durham jail. He had enrolled in drug and alcohol rehabilitation classes, and the jail had a basketball court where he could burn energy and stress in pickup games.
Still, Bost sounded defeated, Rowell said. He said that no matter how hard he tried, bad stuff kept happening to him. He told her he just wanted to come home and spend an entire day at the park with his son.
Bost didnt know anyone in Durham, and he wanted Rowell to come pick him up. She didnt have gas money. She delivers pizzas and did not get paid until the next day. Bost told Rowell he would call her back. She never heard from him again.
Rowell said someone at the Durham jail should have given Bost a ride to Rowan County. A spokesman for the Durham Sheriffs Department said Friday that he didnt know whether jail policies would allow an officer to provide a ride for an exiting inmate.
Bosts final day
The next day, Bost matched the physical description of someone who had broken into an apartment near downtown Durham and stolen two pairs of shoes, $6 and a shotgun. Police later reported that someone who looked like Bost was responsible for a robbery between downtown Durham and N.C. Central University.
A short time later, Bost got off a city bus at the intersection of Cecil and Lawson streets near the university when campus officers approached him.
Investigators say he turned away from them, reached into his waistband and pulled out a shotgun. They say he chambered a round in the shotgun, swung back toward the officers and fired. The officers fired back.
Bost, possibly wounded, ran toward NCCUs School of Education building and hid in a thicket. Police say he fired a second shot. The officers who pursued him returned the gunfire. Bost was pronounced dead at the scene.
Rowell thinks Bost was tired of the life he was living but didnt know how to change it. She thinks that Bost broke into the home and stole things, including the shotgun, to come up with enough money to get home. When the police approached him, he knew he was looking at 10, maybe 15 years in prison as a habitual felon, she said.
She waited several days before telling 4-year-old Isaiah about his father.
I just told him Daddy had to go to heaven because Jesus wanted his daddy to go home, she said. He can always talk to Daddy, and Daddy is always watching over us even though we cant see him.
Bost was buried in the Greenlawn Cemetery in China Grove after a brief graveside service attended by about a dozen people. The Bosts were there, as were Tracy Bosts son and a 6-year-old daughter.
Among the mourners, they were the only members of his biological family.
News researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.