Choir Member: ‘He was a light…'

Family, friends and co-workers mourn the loss of the 22-year-old gunned down

Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has not released any suspect information in connection with the death of a 22-year-old man shot and killed while sitting in his car Thursday morning.

Jerry Brown was sitting in a car outside a family member’s home in Grand Park when investigators said someone drove by, shot him, and kept going.

Brown’s death has struck a chord with his family and friends who knew him as a singer, choir leader, mentor and coworker.

The café in Springfield where Brown worked was closed Thursday, but has since re-opened for business.

The people at 3 Layers Café aren’t the only ones feeling Brown’s absence, the church where he worked at is feeling the loss too.

Brown used his gift of song to light up the worship service every week at King Solomon United Baptist Church.

Nehemiah Samuel, the church’s worship and arts director, worked side by side with Brown, who served as Praise and Worship leader.

“Jerry is the kind of praise and worship leader that you see that is going to kind of get you up out of your seat; get you up on your feet and just get you involved in worship and every aspect of it,” Samuel said.

Samuel says Brown was passionate about music and God and that’s why he never imagined he would be shot and killed. But Samuel said what impressed him most about Brown most is how hard he worked.

“I remember many times he would come here to rehearsal on Thursday night from being at work for being at the hospital with his mom and just so tired and still saw fit to serve,” Samuel said.

Brown started out as a volunteer, but Pastor Mariko Billups said it didn’t stay that way for long.

“Jerry came in one Sunday just to kind of assist our former minister of music and he instantly immediately made an impact on myself and all of the congregation,” Billups said.

And every time Brown lifted his voice, Billups knew he’d made a good choice.

“When some people sing they just sing, but for him it was obvious that it was more than just singing; it was ministry,” Billups shared.

Billups knows this coming Sunday will be hard without seeing and hearing Brown in church.

Still, those who loved and sang with him are finding peace in the life Brown lived.

“Jerry, well he didn't bother nobody I know that much, he didn't bother anybody,” said Antonio Hall, who sang with Brown. “He was a light. He definitely let his light shine.”

JSO was called to 3500 Henrietta Street, not far from where the 20th Street Expressway turns into U.S. 1 shortly after midnight Thursday.

Police said it appeared to be a drive-by shooting.

On Wednesday Brown went to work, attended choir practice at Greater Beulah Missionary Baptist in Northwest Jacksonville, stopped by a friend’s house to help them finish painting a wall, then went to his aunt’s house. His family believe he was sitting outside his aunt’s house using Wi-Fi when someone shot him.

Brown’s family told News4Jax that he was a good man who mentored other young men, sang in the church choir and was a barista at a local coffee shop.

Brown's loved ones are asking for the person responsible for his killing to surrender to police.

February 16, would have been Brown’s 23rd birthday. Instead of celebrating his birthday, the family will be having a fundraiser here at 3 Layers Café to raise reward money for information leading to an arrest in his death.

Anyone with any information on the shooting is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.