Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Mourns Teenager with the Infectious Smile; the Reason for His Shooting Death, the Third at a Westside Complex This Year, Isn't Clear

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Mourns Teenager with the Infectious Smile; the Reason for His Shooting Death, the Third at a Westside Complex This Year, Isn't Clear

Article excerpt

Byline: BRIDGET MURPHY

On one side of the complex was the law.

But in another part of the Eureka Garden housing complex, a killer was at work Tuesday morning.

A killer, who despite the presence of police officers mustered nearby for a morning roll call, opened up with gunfire that left another Jacksonville family mourning the death of a 17-year-old.

Reco Melvin's death marked the third homicide at the Westside apartments this year. He also became the city's third 17-year-old homicide victim in two days.

His mother, Evelyn Melvin, said her son wanted to grow up to become a city bus driver. He came home with a pair of Air Jordans for her two weeks ago, a luxury he knew she'd never buy for herself because she spent everything she had on him and his two little sisters.

He was goofy, she said. And affectionate. And then, she said, then there was his grin.

"Baby, that smile was something serious," Melvin said while holding a digital camera full of recent family photos.

About five hours after the 5 a.m. shooting, the 36-year-old mother walked around to the back of an apartment row in the Labelle Street complex where her family lives and stared at her son's blood staining the sidewalk and soil. It was surrounded by orange spray paint marks police used to mark evidence at the death scene. And as sprinkling rain began blurring what was left of her son's life, Melvin took out her camera again.

"I was taking a picture," she explained later as a loved one found an umbrella and walked her back to where family was waiting. "That was part of him."

Sgt. Dan Janson confirmed that police are looking into some reports that the killer got out of a green Ford Explorer that pulled into the complex before the shooting started. Police aren't sure of the motive. Records showed the victim had one felony drug arrest in his past.

Ray Nolan, the victim's uncle, said the family heard that his nephew was standing with 10 to 12 people and was the only one who didn't sprint away when the gunman came up to the group. …

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