Jarvis Corenell Brown, 22, was never without a smile, his relatives said.
They described him as a happy man and a hard worker. They said he loved his daughter, Shayleigh, and he called his mother every day.
Shayleigh turned 2 on Wednesday, but she won’t celebrate another birthday with her father.
Brown, of Albemarle, was found dead of a gunshot wound around 3:15 a.m. Thursday in the 2500 block of Woodland Drive, after police responded to a 911 call there, according to Charlottesville police.
Brown’s death was the first homicide recorded in the city this year.
He was an employee of Aramark, working at The Crossroads in the University of Virginia’s Observatory Hill dining hall, university spokesman McGregor McCance said.
Karen Cutler, an Aramark spokeswoman, said she couldn’t say much about Brown because of the police investigation into his death. “Mr. Brown was a valued member of our campus dining team for two years and will be greatly missed,” she wrote in an email.
Brown saved up money from that job and recently purchased a car, a Buick, relatives said.
As soon as he bought the car, he drove it up to Richmond, to visit his mother, Shirley Holley. It was about two weeks ago.
“Him and his girlfriend and me went for a ride in it,” Holley recalled Saturday. “It made me so proud. I told him, you’re a 22-year-old. You never find many 22-year-olds who take that much responsibility.”
Many of Brown’s relatives said he was a responsible person.
“All he wanted to do was work to better himself to take care of his baby girl,” said one of Brown’s cousins, Johnice Williams, of Culpeper. Much of Brown’s family lives in the Culpeper area.
Williams said Brown was always updating the family on Shayleigh. “Whenever he talks to you, he’ll tell you about his daughter,” she said. “He’d do anything in the world for her.”
Brown’s sister, Courtney Brown, said her younger brother learned some of his parenting from hanging out with her three children. “He was a great uncle, he loved my kids,” she said. Brown even sported a tattoo of the name of his niece, Ikaylah.
Brown’s family said that when he wasn’t working or taking care of his daughter, he enjoyed singing, rapping, hanging out with his friends and family and playing video games. All of his relatives said he was constantly smiling.
Courtney Brown said her younger brother had always dreamed of opening his own barber shop because he loved meeting and talking to people.
“He would do anything to help anybody,” she said.
His relatives said they can’t understand why Brown was killed.
Police have not publicized much information about their investigation into Brown’s death.
“It’s a major upset to us all,” said De’von Alexander, another of Brown’s cousins, “not knowing what’s going on or what actually happened.”
City police spokesman Lt. Ronnie Roberts said Friday that several items had been sent to the forensic lab in Richmond, and that a car was among items police seized from Woodland Drive. As detectives examined the area Thursday morning, they appeared to not concentrate on any of the homes but on the street.
No one came to the door of many of the homes on Woodland Drive on Thursday and on Saturday. One woman, who did not want to give her name, said on Thursday evening that the street is filled with mainly families and is generally quiet.
“The Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association expresses our sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of the deceased,” Hardy Whitten, the neighborhood association’s president, wrote in an email. “This crime is an isolated occurrence in an otherwise community-engaged and safe neighborhood.”
Roberts said there was no threat to the rest of the neighborhood.
Brown’s relatives said they are leaning on one another and on their faith in God to understand the death.
“We’re in shock,” Courtney Brown said. “It hasn’t set in yet that it really happened.”
Holley began to cry as she spoke about her son. “I know God is above all things, but whoever did it needs to be found and punished,” she said. “He didn’t deserve to go that way. They took my baby. It hurts so bad.”
Anyone with information in the case is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 977-4000.