Gary Pitchlynn and his adopted son Walker ate lunch together on Feb. 12, talked about the 20-year-old's future, told each other "I love you" and left Gray Owl Coffee & Tea with the intention of meeting at home later that evening.
It was the last time Pitchlynn would see his son alive.
A few hours after the lunch, Walker Pitchlynn was robbed of about $100 and shot five times by two 18-year-olds who have been charged with first-degree murder. The defendants, Ivan Lawrence Myers and Chloe Mikyla Moseley, ran through a nearby creek and left the younger Pitchlynn to die.
Doctors operated on the young man that Wednesday night, but he succumbed to the gunshot wounds two days later. Walker Pitchlynn was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome as a toddler and also was treated for ADHD, anxiety and depression until his death.
Gary Pitchlynn, a longtime Norman attorney, said he typically doesn't eat lunch, but his son's request for a meal seemed important.
"I don't know if it was all about lunch that day," he said. "I think it was more about having time with Dad. Maybe it was the look in his eyes, but I went."
Pitchlynn is glad he accepted the invitation.
"We had a good conversation," he recalled. "We talked about his future, whether it involved the community college, taking some classes at the vo-tech or perhaps getting a job. He was upbeat that day and headed to the Thunderbird Clubhouse."
As father and son were about to part ways from Gray Owl Coffee & Tea, Pitchlynn recalled telling Walker, "I love you son. Be careful." Walker replied, "I love you too, Dad. I'll see you after awhile."
Losing a child in such a violent manner has been traumatic for Pitchlynn, his wife Joyce, and their three adult children.
"It's a pain like no other. We were beyond shocked," Pitchlynn said. "But we have our faith to fall back on and each other with all of our family and friends."
Equipped with an app that tracks family members, Pitchlynn said he knew his son was on the east side of Norman at the time of the shooting, but was unaware of the specific location until notified by police.
A 911 call was made to police at about 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 from the Twin Creek Village Apartments, 1300 Creekside Drive. The call, Pitchlynn said, was made by his son as he was being robbed. One of the defendants told the victim, "I'll shoot you in the face." During another part of the 911 call, the victim tells his attackers, "Fine, I'll give you the money, just leave me alone," according to a police affidavit prepared by Norman Detective Brian Franks.
Pitchlynn doesn't know the defendants as any of his son's friends. He said he's unaware of the relationship his son had with them.
"He had a small number of friends. He was generous and kind and would help friends if they didn't have any [money]. I always told him not to carry more than $10 or $20 at a time," the victim's father said.
Like most Asperger's patients, Walker Pitchlynn had big dreams. He talked of being in the military, a police officer or working as a firefighter. His parents, without discouraging him, urged Walker to focus on the present and develop plans for more schooling or obtaining a job. Walker was considered high-functioning with adequate social skills that allowed him to gain employment, if only for a short time. Asperger's syndrome is considered to be on the mild end of a group of neurological disorders known as autism spectrum disorders, according to healthline.com.
As a teenager, he was hired to work for Fowler Toyota in the parts department and later was employed by Panera Bread delivering food. He quit both jobs.
"At 72, we weren't going to be around forever so that's why we were concerned about his future," Pitchlynn said. "But he was resilient. He was finally learning that a job is a job, you might not like it every day, but you need to stick with it. He was so optimistic about his future."
Although Walker was 20, he was the emotional equivalent of a 13 or 14-year-old, his father said, which could have contributed to his death.
"It wasn't unusual for him to take a kid or two or three to the mall and hang out," Pitchlynn recalled.
Growing up, Walker earned his martial arts black belt at age 6 and was a two-time state sparring champion. He eventually stopped the Tae Kwon Do competitions because he was "so kind and tender hearted and didn't like kicking and beating up people."
Later, he became involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, earning his Eagle Scout rank at 17. Pitchlynn remembered participating with his son in summer camps at Slippery Rock Scout Ranch. There were also outdoor activities including hikes, campouts and canoe trips in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.
Walker also had an affinity for electronic music and DJ concerts at the Farmer's Market in Oklahoma City.
The homicide victim came into the Pitchlynn family as a baby when his biological mother could not care for him after his birth. The Pitchlynns volunteered to take the baby into their home for a short time as the mother's family looked for a decent foster family.
"They wanted to place him in a good Christian home," Pitchlynn recalled. "They wanted to give him a better chance for a better future."
Walker never left the Pitchlynn home again, but the formal adoption didn't occur for two years. As they were caring for the baby on a temporary basis, the Pitchlynns looked for a sign that they should make this baby part of their family forever. They were given copies of his shot records and his birth certificate, which listed Dec. 25 as his birth date. That was the sign they needed.
At that time, the family made the commitment to make Walker part of their own clan. Two years later, legal paperwork was signed and the boy was formally adopted by the Pitchlynns at the Cleveland County Courthouse.
On Friday, the Pitchlynn family and friends will say their final good-byes during a Celebration of Life set for 11 a.m. at Timber Creek Church, 2800 West Indian Hills Road in Norman. Memorial donations may be made to Timber Creek Church or to BSA, Troop 217, c/o Darwin Scheffe, 3009 Pine Hill Road, Norman, 73072, or in person at the service.