Family of Taft High School graduate finally gets closure after killer found guilty

Tremelle R. Montgomery was found guilty on charges of capital murder, attempted murder, and aggravated assault

SAN ANTONIO – More than a year and a half after the murder of Joshua Wardi, his family finally has some closure.

Wardi, a Taft High School graduate, was killed outside a bar in Manhattan, Kansas, while stationed at Fort Riley in Feb. 2022.

“This is my second adopted land. I ran because of the killing in (South Sudan). If this happened here, why am I even here?” said Rose Wani, Wardi’s mother.

Wani moved to the U.S. for a better and safer life for her son.

He was shot and killed by Tremelle R. Montgomery, who was found guilty on charges of capital murder, attempted murder, and aggravated assault on Sept. 11.

“I can go to sleep in peace,” said Wani.

Wani said the day that Wardi died, her family grew.

“You are watching from Heaven. Your teammates, your coaches never leave your momma alone, and your momma will never be alone,” said Wani.

The brotherhood Wardi created while leading the Taft Raiders basketball team is one that can’t be broken and has only gotten stronger in the face of tragedy.

“The impact that he had on those boys and our team and our program and our community has been felt,” said head basketball coach Karl Lawson.

Coach Lawson said as good as Wardi was on the court, he was an even better person off of it.

The basketball team has retired Wardi’s number 0 jersey and has created a scholarship in his name.

“We set up a scholarship in his name strictly on character. The character that he had -- they all respected him,” said Aly Guerrero.

Now, his former team raises money for the scholarship on the hardwood, honoring a life cut short by creating a legacy.

“We love you and we’re just going to try our best to meet you one day again,” said Wani.

About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.