Victim of Best Buy shooting remembered as kind, joyful man at funeral service
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, July 22, 2012
7/22/12 at 7:10 AM
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A community turned out on Saturday trying to make some sense out of a senseless act.
The Rev. William Tankersley told those who gathered at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church for Saturday's funeral service for Graydon Wesley "Wes" Brown that the July 14 shooting that left Brown and Scott Dewayne Norman III dead makes people question "how the world is supposed to work."
Investigators believe the killings were gang-related. They say Norman was apparently targeted outside a Best Buy located at 5520 E. Skelly Drive as a retaliatory measure connected to previous homicides and that Brown happened to be struck by a stray round as he shopped inside the store.
Many mourners wore teal ribbons to the service to signify Brown's favorite color. Teal ribbons were also placed outside the church.
Tankersley challenged those who attended the service to turn a terrible tragedy into something positive by finding "a nonviolent way to overcome evil with good."
He encouraged people to reach out and bring hope to young people who might otherwise turn to the hopeless gang lifestyle.
Tankersley said the emptiness and despair of the gang culture is the opposite of the joyful way that Brown lived his life.
Laura Frossard remembered that Brown introduced her to the joys of contra dancing, a favorite hobby of his.
Frossard said on Saturday that Brown was someone who always "wanted to bring joy to people's lives."
Janet Spaulding said Brown was "such a good guy" who had a "positive, kind spirit." She said she believes Brown would want something good to somehow come out of his death.
The shooting has placed fresh emphasis on the problem of violence in the community and what to do about it.
Shirley Ward, who attended Saturday's service, said she has lived in the city most of her life. She said, "It's not the same Tulsa now. I don't know if it can ever be changed."
Brown was looking at DVDs with his young daughter when a shot evidently intended for Norman shattered a glass door and struck Brown in the chest. To many, Brown's death has illustrated how fleeting life is.
Joyce Polkinghorne, who was in the same Ponca City High School graduating class as Brown, noted that he would probably still be alive if he had been in a different part of the store or had even bent down for a moment to pick something up off the floor.
"Life is lived in inches," Polkinghorne said.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett - on hand at Saturday's service with his wife, Victoria - said of the shooting, "We must never let this sort of activity take over our community."
Brad Phelps, 57, said, "If we've learned anything, it's that hate and revenge are never an answer."
Scott Dewayne Norman III
A visitation has been set for 3-6 p.m. Sunday at Jack's Memory Chapel, 801 E. 36th St. North, for Scott Dewayne Norman III, 34, the other man killed in the July 14 shooting at Best Buy. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Lifeline Outreach Ministries, 2708 N. Cincinnati Ave.
Original Print Headline: Seeking solace
David Harper 918-581-8359
Mourners embrace outside of the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church from the funeral service of Wes Brown, an innocent bystander in a shooting at Best Buy. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Mourners embrace Saturday outside of the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, site of the funeral service of Wes Brown, an innocent bystander killed in the Best Buy shooting on July 14. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
A teal-colored ribbon flies outside the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church as mourners walk out of the funeral service of Wes Brown. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Graydon Wesley Brown: He was killed by a stray bullet while shopping.