To say that Brandon Harris was loved is an understatement.
A hands-on father who loved cars, cracking jokes, trying new recipes and competing with his mother’s cooking, his uncle describes the 28-year-old as an infinitely loving man with an “incredible heart.” His boss describes him as an “excellent employee” and “one of the kindest and most polite young men” he ever met, and his grandfather—whose own father was murdered when he was child—describes him as a funny, family-oriented guy who, despite some of his personal life challenges, was in a “great place in his life” when he died.
Whoever shot the hardworking Gainesville, Florida, native in a residential neighborhood in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Thanksgiving Day last year left a gaping hole in the heart of the Harris family.
“The thought of my nephew laying in his car, shivering and bleeding to death is unbearable,” says Brandon’s uncle, UPTOWN Editor-in-Chief Isoul Harris. “This is the baby I used to feed, change and babysit when I was 11-years-old. It’s the same little boy I used to drive around in the mid-90s and listen to music with and take to the mall. It’s the same person that I was just getting to know all over again because he had matured into a giving and loving young man who cherished his family over everything, especially his [five-year-old] daughter, Nevaeh.”
Though the police have given the family their theory on what happened and are on the lookout for his killer, the Harris’ are still struggling to understand what happened on the night the rest of America was giving thanks. Devastated but determined, it is offering a more than $11,000 reward to anyone with information that could lead to an arrest.
“From what I understand, and the details are still a bit murky, Brandon decided to play a game of cards with his friends on Thanksgiving night,” explains Isoul. “Once he arrived to the home, he was standing out front by himself, and a guy approached him and demanded his wallet. Brandon told him that he did not have any money and after their arguing escalated, the guy hit Brandon over the head with a gun and then shot him in the leg.”
“Brandon was able to drive off, but due to the increasingly heavy loss of blood he had to pull over,” the editor continues. “The police arrived. Brandon told the cops that he was cold while they waited for the EMT. The bullet had hit a main artery and Brandon died from the blood loss.”
Like John Harris, Brandon’s grandfather, who launched the Brandon Harris Reward Fund with the goal of raising at least $25,000, Isoul does not believe the shooting was an accident.
“I do not think it was random,” he says. “I think he was set up in some way. I think the assailant knew that Brandon was going to be there by himself and knew what type of person Brandon was. He was not of the streets nor did he have a street mentality,” says Isoul. “He was a strong, young man, who knew how to defend himself, but he was ambushed and lost his life at the hands of a disgusting, less than human being.”
“Finding this monster will not resurrect my nephew, but it sure as hell will keep this killer from tearing out the hearts of another family,” he says.
For Brandon’s mom the capture of her son’s killer won’t bring him back but it will help her get the little closure she so desperately needs.
“Whoever said time heals all wounds never lost a child,” says Kay Harris Lofton. “The pain becomes a part of you and you are never the same. I was so proud of the man he was,” she says of her fallen son. “I spoke with him almost every day and I am so thankful that my last words to him on the day he died was that I loved him,” she says. “He was my heart. I feel broken and lost.”
If you have any information that could lead to an arrest in this case, please contact Crimestoppers at (336) 727-2800. You may remain anonamous.