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Reginald Renard Bryan Jr., 23, of Orange City, Florida, was shot and killed in the early morning hours of April 28, 2013, as several hundred people gathered outside Big Earl’s Gold Mine, a club just north of Des Moines’ city limits on N.W. Second Avenue.
Another man, 24-year-old Matthew Millsap of Des Moines, suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was taken to an area hospital where he was treated and released.
Bryan Jr. — the former Head Coach of the Lady Spartans Softball Team at Chicago Public Schools — was originally from Florida but had attended Grambling State University in New Orleans, LA, before going to work in Illinois for the Chicago Public School District.
He’d been in Des Moines to celebrate a friend’s graduation.
Bryan’s murder isn’t the first to occur at the legendary men’s club; Earl “Big Earl” Hamilton, who founded the county’s first topless and bottomless “juice bar,” was gunned down and killed by an unknown assailant on Sept. 29, 1996, after closing up for the evening. Hamilton’s murder also remains unsolved.
According to Polk County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jana Abens, Bryan was found in the parking lot outside the adult dance club at approximately 3:25 a.m.
“There were a series of shots fired reported between 3:22 a.m. and 3:40 a.m.,” Abens said in a News-Journal article dated April 30, 2013. “There were 400 to 500 people at the party in a two-block area.”
Abens said that as deputies and officers from the Des Moines Police Department and a Windsor Heights Police Department K-9 officer made their way through the crowds, more shots could be heard.
Deputies had responded to Quik Trip, 4575 NW Second St., on a report of individuals disturbing the peace. Hundreds had gathered across several properties between the Quik Trip and Big Earl’s Gold Mine at 4745 NW Second Street.
People and cars were blocking access to the Quik Trip, Abens said.
In a Des Moines Register article dated April 29, 2013, Abens said the gathering had apparently been unplanned but spread through word of mouth and phone calls.
Deputies who heard the shots reported them to dispatch, but had trouble determining where they had come from due to the number of people in the area. The vast number of people also hindered the deputies in finding the victim, the Register reported, though Abens said they located Bryan within minutes.
On Monday, April 29, 2013, the Polk County medical examiner officially ruled Bryan’s death a homicide.
Detectives were uncertain as to whether Bryan was the intended target or had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Polk County Crime Stoppers is offering up to $4,000 for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of a suspect in Reginald Bryan Jr.’s slaying.
Reginald Renard Bryan, Jr. was born in DeLand, Florida, on June 6, 1989, the son of Golda Humphrey and Reginald Renard Bryan, Sr.
At age 6, Reginald received Christ and was baptized at Greater Bethlehem Baptist Church, DeLand, FL.
Reginald attended local high schools in Volusia County, and graduated from Light House Christian Academy in 2008. He furthered his education by attending Grambling State University in New Orleans, LA, where he studied Kinesiology/Sports Medicine.
In 2010 Reginald relocated to Oak Lawn, IL, where he was employed as a security guard by Chicago Public Schools (CPS). At CPS, Reginald also was selected as head coach of the Lady Spartans Softball Team. Within one year — under his direction and dedication — the struggling team became champions.
Most recently, Reginald had made the decision to enroll at IBEN Technical Institute in Alsip, IL, where he pursed his certification as an electrician.
Reginald Bryan Jr. was survived by a young daughter, Railah Mone` Bryan of Chicago, IL; his parents, Ms. Golda Humphrey of Orange City, FL, and Mr. Reginald Renard Bryan, Sr. (Anastasia) of DeLand, FL; a special lady friend, Charnell Burell of Chicago, IL; two sisters, Deja Padgett of Orange City, FL and Alexa Bryan of DeLand, FL; two brothers, Jamal Bryan of Orlando, FL and Reshun Tyson of Orange City, FL; grandparents, Betty Humphrey and (the late) Leon Humphrey, and Mr. Milton and Ella Bryan, all of DeLand, FL; aunts Sharron Ross (Lorenzo), Donna Gibson, Belinda Dykes (Adrian), all of DeLand, FL; Gwandria Tillman and Camille Hutto (Cleo), both of Orlando, FL; uncles Austin Bryan (Sophia), Robert Gibson, Warner Smith (Tameka), all of DeLand, FL, Kelly Gibson (Wendy) of Sanford, FL, and Wilbert Hoskins of Atlanta, GA; great-aunts Ida Baily of Melbourne, FL, Eurlean Monroe of Daytona Beach, FL, Monica Sharp of New York, NY, Emma Jean Williams of DeLand, FL, Bertha Bragg of Wachula, FL, and Resella Hunter of DeLand, FL; great-uncle Delunor Gibson of Miami, FL; three great-great-aunts: Mabel Stafford of Orange City, FL, Ethel Moody of DeLand, FL, and Alice Hines of Calif.; two great-great-uncles: Amos Gibson of Houston, TX and Reginald Bryan of England, UK; and a host of cousins, loved ones and friends, including the “Oak Boys” and the “Florida Boys.”
Memorial services were held at noon on Saturday, May 11, 2013, at Mt. Calvary FWBC, 710 Cincinnati Ave. in DeLand, Florida. Burial followed at Community Cemetery in DeLand. Visitation was held from 4–7 p.m. on Friday, May 10, at Unity Funeral Home, and from 10 a.m. until noon the day of the services.
Angela Dallas–Johnson Unity Funeral Home Inc., 105 W. New Hampshire Ave., DeLand, FL, handled arrangements.
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