Cartrvous Moore poses for a photo with his nieces and late grandmother.

Joyce Moore was at work when she got a phone call letting her know her brother, Cartrvous Moore, had been killed.

He'd been shot multiple times in the 1900 block of Taylor Street in East Chattanooga at around 5 a.m. on Aug. 2, according to Chattanooga police. It was their mother's birthday, Joyce Moore said.

"I couldn't really accept the fact that it was what I heard," she said. "I was just walking back and forth, back and forth like, 'Ok, I know this can't be true. I know this can't be true.'"

She said she was in denial from the very beginning.

"I was just like 'How?' 'Why? 'For what?' And I was trying to find — what's the reason?' What did he do? What was wrong? And I just couldn't," she said.

Looking back, she said she thinks any other person would have left work immediately. But instead, "I actually was standing there like, 'Uh, I need to go.' Like I needed permission to leave. I was just so in a daze. I was like, 'What am I doing? I don't need permission to go leave no job. I just lost my brother — so they say!'"

"It was just odd. I was in a trance."

Finally, Joyce Moore said, she came to reality.

"I went straight to the crime scene. I didn't make no calls to nobody or anything. I just went straight there."

The family then gathered at her mother's home. But instead of celebrating her mother's birthday, they mourned her only son's death.

Cartrvous Moore, 38, was a middle child among five sisters, Joyce Moore said. He was silly as a child and loved music. He would write his own raps and taught her how to write, too.

"He wanted me to be tough," she said.

Once when they were children, they sat at the kitchen table, and he said, "'Come on, we're gonna write a rap,'" Joyce Moore recalled him saying.

"I was like, 'I don't know how to write no rap!' But you know, with him just telling me I could do it, I did it. He was a good motivation. All it took was him to believe I could do it."

As a teen, he fell into the wrong crowd and it followed him into his adult years, finally landing him in federal prison.

But, Joyce Moore said, "I believe when he got out, I thought he was really about changing his life and doing the right thing, getting on the right path."

He had one child, a 12-year-old girl, who he was just starting to get to know after being released from prison.

"He would just love so hard," Joyce Moore said. "I was like, 'Wow, I could see a difference in my brother.'"

"He told me that when he was locked up he felt like he really didn't have no one, so he knew that once he did get out, that it was always going to be about all things positive and couldn't nobody make him stoop to their level," she said. "He was all about — if you was negative, he wasn't going to spend the next five seconds around you. He would just go on his way because he didn't want no trouble."

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Cartrvous Moore is pictured with his aunt.

But trouble still found its way to him.

Joyce Moore doesn't know what happened to her brother, but she has her suspicions.

Police haven't released many details and haven't said whether any suspects have been identified. But they are continuing to follow up on leads "in order to identify the suspects involved in Moore's murder," spokeswoman Elisa Myzal said.

For her part, Joyce Moore thinks whoever killed her brother was someone he trusted.

"My brother was nice," she said. "He was friendly, and he didn't meet strangers. He made fast friends."

He was killed near where he used to hang out with friends, she said. She just wishes someone would come forward.

"There should be some type of justice when a person is killed on the streets," she said. "[People] should be looking forward to bringing peace and justice at the same time."

"This can't just be a black man who — he's stereotyped because he's black. Of course he lives in a neighborhood where there's nothing but violence [but] we can't keep basing everything, every situation on race and violence and gang bangin' or just wrong place, wrong time it just don't make sense. There need to be real reasons for everybody who [loses] a life."

In the meantime, Joyce Moore and her family are just trying to heal.

Her mother has thrown herself into work, she said. And she herself is still somewhat in denial.

"I think I'm still kinda — I know that it's true, but my daughter comes up to me and is like, 'Mom, I still think he's at the studio somewhere.' And I'm like, 'I know!' It's still not all the way real."

"Sometimes I have to hide the obituary or hide pictures in my phone just because I'm not ready to accept that I won't see him. It hurts my heart, and I get sad, and I know I have to move on. I know God said, 'Let the dead be dead and don't mourn.' It's done. It's been two months, three months — I should be like, 'It's over.' But you never thought that anything like this would happen to you in your life you really don't know if you can accept it or let it go as soon as you think you could."

Police ask anyone with information about Cartrvous Moore's killing to contact investigators by calling the homicide tip line at 423-643-5100.

Contact Rosana Hughes at 423-757-6327, or follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.