Man killed, 2nd injured in shooting at Jacksonville Beach
Friends, family remember Glen McNeil Jr. as memorial grows at shooting scene
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A man was killed in a double shooting early Wednesday morning near the Seawalk Pavilion, the Jacksonville Beach Police Department said.
According to police, Glen McNeil Jr., 23, was shot and killed about 1 a.m. outside Surfer The Bar, near the intersection of First Avenue North and First Street. A second man, who police have not named, was shot in the hand and hospitalized.
The area was still crowded with people who stayed after Tuesday night's Fourth of July fireworks display to celebrate.
Shaun Pratt, who works at a restaurant nearby, said he clocked out of work when police starting showing up.
"It was popping. It was the usual Fourth of July at 1:40 a.m. People still around, having some drinks, having a good time, having a good Fourth of July," Pratt said. "There's about six cop cars and they are kicking everybody out of everywhere, and the next thing I hear is people crying."
For most of the morning, police combed the area around the double shooting site while family and friends poured their hearts out on social media.
A memorial formed at the scene of the shooting and continued to grow throughout the day as friends and family members gathered to lay flowers and reflect on McNeil's life.
"He was always a good person. This is such a bad loss," said Steven Hambel, one of many people who called McNeil a true friend.
Hambel said he was shocked when he received a disturbing phone call.
"My friend called me early this morning and was, like, 'Glen got shot last night and he died," Hambel said. "He was such a fun loving guy, man. He was always a good person who always there, man. If you needed someone to lean on, he was there."
McNeil's aunt, Gloria Chaplin, felt the same way.
"He was a gentleman, very respectful, honest, intelligent, loved to smile," Chaplin said. "Just a happy go-lucky person."
Hambel sat at the makeshift memorial for two hours, and got the attention of Chaplin, who saw him during News4Jax at 6 p.m.
"I was watching News4Jax and he was bending down, crying, and I said, 'I need to go down there.' I just felt like this was something I needed to do. I went out and got balloons," Chaplin said. "I felt I needed to give them a hug and thank them."
She not only thanked Hambel, but she also thanked the many people who stopped by to pay respect to her nephew. She said their respect goes a long way.
"It means that they care. Although they may not know him, it means a lot to me," Chaplin said.
McNeil worked at the pier, where the mood was somber Wednesday.
"(He was) just one of those people that makes you smile, makes you laugh," Brianna Richhart said. "He had an infectious smile. I'm smiling just thinking about it. Yes, he was a great person."
McNeil, who friends knew as Gleet, was a graduate of Sandalwood High School, where he played football. They said he had just returned from a guys-only trip to Cancun.
"I truly believe I can speak for everyone that knew Glen when I say he impacted all of our lives in some way, whether it was from his big old smile or outgoing personality," said Tiziana Onstead.
Friends are urging people to come forward and help catch whoever fired the shots, wanting justice for McNeil.
"He deserves it," Richhart said. "He did not deserve that. He deserved to live his life. He deserved to have a family. He was so young."
No suspects have been identified in the double shooting. The Police Department asked anyone with information to call Detective D. Kling at 904-270-1675.
Many shocked by deadly shooting in Jacksonville Beach
Not only were friends and family members shocked by McNeil's death, they were also shocked that he died in Jacksonville Beach -- an area that rarely experiences gun violence.
"They always have cops right here, so I can't believe it would happen right here -- seeing this is the last spot he had his last moments," Hambel said.
McNeil's family members were also shocked.
"That really surprised me," Chaplin said. "I'm just amazed."
News4Jax on Wednesday spoke to Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham to get his reaction to the violence.
"This happened at 1:30. People were not having hamburgers at McDonald's at 1:30. They were out drinking and doing things that create problems sometimes," Latham said.
Despite the double shooting, Latham said, he wants people to know that Jacksonville Beach is a safe place to live and visit. But Hambel feels differently.
"Honestly, man, it makes me care less to go out to the bars. This violence stuff is getting too out of hand and this one really struck home," Hambel said.
McNeil was the second person killed in Jacksonville Beach within one week after the community had no murders during all of 2016.
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