Loved ones remember father shot, killed in Jacksonville Beach

Leon Bennett of Atlantic Beach shot early Sunday morning

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – More than 100 people gathered Tuesday night in Jacksonville Beach to remember a 23-year-old father who was fatally shot after a fight outside a bar.

As rain fell from the sky on a dreary night, so did tears from the eyes of friends and relatives of Leon Bennett, a father of two boys ages 5-months-old and 2-years-old.

“It’s crazy amazing the amount of people who knew him and don’t know him who bothered to reach out and show us support," said Breana Kelly, Bennett's sister.

Cellphone video captured Bennett involved in a fight outside some Jacksonville Beach bars. Detectives said moments later, Bennett was followed to the intersection of 1st Street and 7th Avenue, where he was shot and killed.

LISTEN: 911 call made moments after shooting

While the family is asking for people to step forward with information, Rhonda Kelly, Bennett’s mother, had a message for violent offenders.

“It’s got to stop. It’s got to stop with this madness of killing one another. It’s okay to walk away. You’re not a coward," Kelly said. "What do you get out of spending the rest of your life in jail for killing somebody and ruining a family?”

Family said Bennett was not a gang member. They said they have been hurt by people on social media who assume he was affiliated with gang activity.

Police said the shooter was a man in a white, four-door sedan. On Monday, investigators released video of a person and vehicle of interest in the shooting. Several other men were also in the white sedan at the time of the shooting.

“If you do know something or hear something or whatever the case may be, please step forward and say something to authorities. This family is hurting," said James Phillips, Bennett's stepfather.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact Jacksonville Beach police at 904-270-1661.

About the Author: