Police, family, friends still seeking answers in Jax Beach killing

Former Sandalwood football player Glen McNeil gunned down at beach

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Loved ones of a former Sandalwood football player gunned down at the beach during Fourth of July celebrations are calling for parents to get more involved in their children’s lives.

Jacksonville Beach police say someone shot and killed Glen McNeil, 23, early Wednesday near the Seawalk Pavilion in Latham Plaza. Another man was injured, but is recovering. The search is still on for the killer.

“I just don't know what it's going to take, but I believe, I really believe, it starts from home,” McNeil's grandmother, Delores Mitchell, said. “The parents got to get on these teenagers and find out what's going on out here in these streets.”

Mitchell, at first, was too shaken up to speak, but when she did, her message was clear.

IMAGES: Loved ones gather at memorial for man killed in Jax Beach

“That was the Fourth of July. Everybody just went to have a good time,” Mitchell said.” When you go with a gun or carry a gun, you're going to kill. You're looking for trouble, and they went to kill. They went to kill my grandson.”

Chase Lanzendorf was on the balcony of a restaurant and bar early Wednesday and said he could see McNeil lying on the ground still alive.

“We had heard a bunch of bangs going off, and I just assumed it was fireworks,” Lanzendorf said. “(But then) there were these people gathering on the fence and they were pointing over here saying somebody just got shot. … I just remember him looking back and reaching up like, 'Help.' He was obviously in pain.”

Lanzendorf said it was a tough thing to see, but he didn't get a look at the shooter.

“It’s really crazy to me to picture that as many cops as there were already out here that someone could do that and manage to get away,” Lanzendorf said.

At this point, no suspects have been identified. Jacksonville Beach police have asked for witnesses to come forward with any information about the shooting.

In the hours after the shooting, people stopped by a makeshift memorial to remember and reflect. They said McNeil had a great personality, was friends with many and had a good heart.

McNeil's family said he had no enemies and they don't understand how or why someone would kill him.

“Hopefully, along with finding the real story, we can find the killer as well,” McNeil's younger brother, Collin McNeil, said.

Police have been very tight-lipped about the moments leading up to the shooting.

Collin McNeil said he's watched videos of what some say was a separate incident that happened before his brother was killed. He said above all else, he has a message for the killer.

“I forgive them,” Collin McNeil said. “I mean, that's just the way life is.”

His family supports that message.

“To hear my baby cousin saying he forgives the killer. That's all we can do,” Latonia Mitchell said. “If he can have that heart and strength to say he's going to forgive the killer, then we have no choice but to follow his lead.”

Glen McNeil's aunt said she saw one of his friends bent down, crying on live television. She said the support from friends and the community means the world.

“I was watching News4Jax and he was bending down, crying and I said I need to go down there," Gloria Chaplin said. "I just felt like this is something I needed to do. I went out and got balloons and said I felt I needed to give them a hug and thank them.”

Glen McNeil's mother was out planning her son's funeral Thursday. The family said those services will likely be scheduled for next weekend. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover the funeral expenses.

The Police Department asked anyone with information in the shooting to call Detective D. Kling at 904-270-1675. 

Crime Stoppers also brought its mobile billboard out to remind people they can report tips anonymously to 1-866-845-TIPS. It was a rare sight for the Jacksonville Beach area.

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