Bar closing dispute leads to homicide

Bar closing dispute leads to homicide
Blake Hendrix

Park and King area rocked by shooting

The shooting-death of a 23-year-old Bryceville man visiting the Park and King area shattered the peace in Riverside Feb. 16. Known for its endless number of beer taps and dining establishments, as well as a welcoming sense of place, the popular strip was disrupted by an incident out of character for the nature of the neighborhood.

The body of Blake Hendrix was found in the early morning hours near the Burger King at King and Forbes streets, according to the Jacksonville chapter of MAD DADS, a group whose name stands for Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder.

According to anonymous sources who claimed to be close to the victim, the incident began around closing time (2 a.m.) when a disagreement escalated within a local bar and spilled into the street. It is unclear whether Hendrix was directly engaged in the altercation, but the subsequent result was that he was shot and killed.

The shooting was an aberration for the area, which rarely sees much violent crime. At the end of January, there had been no homicides reported in zone 4, which includes Riverside, Avondale, Ortega and portions of the greater Westside, making the shooting the first this year for the zone, according to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief W. Mike Johnson, zone 4 commander.

Less than a week later, 28-year-old Rodney Barnard Braziel Jr. of Argyle Forest was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and discharging a firearm in public, Duval County Court records show. At press time, Braziel was being held without bond at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Department of Corrections and was set to appear in court March 16. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office had not provided The Resident with any information in relation to the incident as of press time.

A GoFundMe page dedicated to Hendrix’s memorial had raised more than half its goal of $15,000 less than two weeks after the incident. The site described Hendrix as having touched many lives “as he walked this earth amongst (us) as a son, brother, grandson, cousin, uncle and friend to many of us before being called to his heavenly home. Free spirit, charismatic and gregarious are only a few words which can be used to describe the late Blake Hendrix. With a personality that was infectious and often envied by those around him, how do you say goodbye? It has been said ‘to know him, was to love him.’ There could be no truer statement.”

Hendrix was a 2014 graduate of West Nassau High School and worked at W.W. Gay Mechanical Contractor, Gainesville, according to his obituary. He attended Light House Baptist Church and loved fast cars, especially Mustangs. His funeral was conducted Feb. 22 at First Baptist Church Middleburg.

By Jennifer Edwards
Resident Community News

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