‘Can’t wrap my head around it’: Friends identify man fatally shot near Jacksonville park

A 27-year-old man who was found shot to death over the weekend in Riverside has been identified by friends and loved ones.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 27-year-old man who was found shot to death over the weekend in Riverside has been identified by friends and loved ones.

They said Keenan Sparks was the man found fatally shot Saturday morning on Sydney Street near Willowbranch Park. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says his death is being investigated as a murder.

At first, police were unable to identify him, and the Sheriff’s Office posted a photo of one of Sparks’ tattoos on social media. Several friends said they immediately knew it was him after seeing the picture.

“Oh my God. My heart sank,” said Amy Alvarez, a close friend. “I can’t wrap my head around it.”

Friends said Sparks moved to Jacksonville to be closer to his parents and recently started working as a delivery driver with DoorDash.

Described as a “gentle giant,” Sparks was always willing to go out of his way to help others.

“He was awesome. He was full of joy, and he’d be the type of guy who even if he was down to his last penny, if someone else needed it — he’d give it to you,” Alvarez said.

Several neighbors, who spoke to News4JAX on a condition of anonymity, said they woke up around 6 a.m. Saturday, saying they saw police cruisers in the area.

There’s no word currently of a potential motive.

“Justice will be served,” Alvarez said. “And when that day comes, I’m going to be in the courtroom.”

Investigators said they are combing the area for cameras and surveillance footage to help point them in the direction of who may be responsible.

A spokesperson for DoorDash said the company is working with law enforcement throughout the investigation. It’s unclear if he was working at the time of his death.

No arrests have been announced in the investigation. Anyone with information can submit a tip to the Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida.


About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.