Well-known dance teacher from Jacksonville killed in Dallas

Raines High grad Darrell Cleveland, 45, performed across the world

By Vic Micolucci - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A well-known dance teacher from Jacksonville was killed Sunday morning in Texas.

Dallas police responded to a car crash and found that 45-year-old Darrell Cleveland had been shot in his vehicle. He died at a hospital.

So far, no one has been arrested and detectives continue to look for tips. 

Cleveland was an accomplished dancer and choreographer who performed across the world, including for musical acts like Monica and En Vogue.

News4Jax on Monday spoke with his family and friends, who described Cleveland as one of a kind.

"There will never be another Darrell Cleveland," said Quincy Shawn Benton, a childhood friend. "You will never hear anything negative about Darrell."

Dancing was his passion, ballet was his art, and teaching others became his mission.

"He was a fine young man," said Patricia Cleveland, his mother. "He loved teaching. He loved dancing. And he loved the kids."

A large group of Cleveland's family members and friends came together Monday in Jacksonville. Many were still in shock that such a bright light is gone.

"I never expected it," Patricia Cleveland said. "I really have not put my arms around it yet."

His mother said she doesn’t know what she’ll do without her only child.

"I just thank God that he allowed him to be in my life for 45 years," she said. "I'm going to miss him and I just know that he's in a better place."

Cleveland grew up in Jacksonville. He graduated from Raines High School and then went to school in Atlanta.

He was built for the big stage. He made appearances in commercials, music videos and performances across the globe. But it's overshadowed now by his unexplained death.

Loved ones said Cleveland was a man who didn't have any enemies. 

"It it were not for the Lord, who is on our side, we would not know what we would do today," said Ananias Watts, his cousin. "He's absolutely in a better place."

Many of Cleveland’s loved ones will be heading to Dallas Tuesday to find out more about what happened. They plan on having his funeral in Jacksonville, but they're still working to find out the best day to do that.

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