Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man, 22, Who Sang Gospel Music Fatally Shot in Car; His Family Thinks Shooting Was Random Act, Mistaken Identity

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man, 22, Who Sang Gospel Music Fatally Shot in Car; His Family Thinks Shooting Was Random Act, Mistaken Identity

Article excerpt

Byline: Dana Treen

In his car outside an aunt's house, Jerry Renaldo Brown Jr. was likely using her Wi-Fi signal to stay in touch by phone with family members when he was randomly shot dead just after midnight Thursday, others in the large Jacksonville family said.

"They said he stopped responding," said cousin Chevie Green, who also was the 22-year-old's boss at her Three Layers Cafe in Springfield. Brown had been on his phone texting with another cousin and was possibly switching over to take a call when he was shot.

Brown had been at the aunt's house with other cousins after choir practice and helping paint a church attendee's room, Green said.

A tenor who regularly sang at a variety of churches, Brown was scheduled to be in a gospel talent show Friday.

Police said Brown was found dead in the car and was the victim of an apparent drive-by shooting in the 3500 block of Henrietta Street. No arrests have been reported.

The aunt inside the house heard the gunshots, Green said.

"She said it was loud," Green said. When she looked, she was surprised to see her nephew's car still there and went outside.

His head was rolled back and his life was gone, but there remained a faint reminder of the type of person he was.

"My aunt said when she saw him in the car he had a smile on his face," Green said. "A slight smile."

Brown was always smiling, said Green and other relatives at the house on Walnut Street where many of them grew up or gathered and where they mourned Thursday. They were there to try to understand what happened to the Raines High School graduate whose life had revolved around gospel music and family.

"It was in that Grand Park area," said Ladonna Green, another aunt. "We don't know if it was some sort of initiation or mistaken [identity case]."

Five of the city's 12 homicides this year have been in the 32209 ZIP code that covers Grand Park, according to Times-Union records.

Brown had a humble heart, she said of the nephew whose close family and friends called "Tude. …

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