WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. – A man was shot and killed in West Melbourne while trying to de-escalate an argument between two others, police said.
The fatal shooting happened late Friday near Columbia Lane and U.S. 192 in an area where teens and young adults are known to hang out, according to Sgt. Graig Erenstoft.
Family members identified the victim as 19-year-old Andre Hutchinas, a football player and recent Melbourne High School graduate.
West Melbourne police said Gregory Barr II was arrested on second-degree murder charges in connection with the shooting.
According to police, Barr was in an argument with someone else about beer being spilled on him. Barr then put a knife to the person’s throat, and Hutchinas tried to intervene, police said.
Barr attempted to stab or slash Hutchinas with the knife, but he was able to avoid the strike and punched Barr in self-defense, according to a police report.
Barr then pulled out a gun and shot Hutchinas in the neck, police said. Hutchinas was taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, according to investigators.
Responding Officer Camera Footage ***Press Release***
Responding Officer Camera FootagePosted by West Melbourne Police Department on Monday, June 28, 2021
Erenstoft said it’s disheartening to see someone so young killed over something so trivial.
“It’s obviously tragic. Obviously our hearts go out, our condolences go out to the family but it’s senseless. There’s no reason for it,” he said.
A crowd surrounded Barr, but he threatened them with his gun and told them to get away, police said.
Barr was taken to police headquarters, where he waived his Miranda rights and admitted to shooting the victim, according to the police report.
Video from the West Melbourne Police Department showed partygoers rushing to the patrol car as the first officer arrived on scene to point him to the victim and the suspect.
The officer ran toward a large campfire and yelled for someone to “put the gun down.”
Barr approached the officer with his hands up and followed commands to get on the ground, according to the footage.
As Barr was being taken into custody, partygoers begged the officer to get help for Hutchinas.
“Relax. I’m dealing with one thing at a time,” the officer replied.
The video shows Barr still had a gun in his waistband.
Hutchinas’ mother, Lasondra Pollock, remembered her son as a “gentle giant” who was always making others smile with his jokes and gave the best hugs.
“I mean, his smile would light up the room. He always, he just wanted to have a good time, you know, just innocent fun,” Pollock said.
His goal was to become an entrepreneur.
David Lewis, the president of Palm Bay Rockets football time, said Hutchinas was like a son to him. The two bonded both on and off the field and had grown close over the years.
“He’s just a great kid. This is really hard for me but all in all, I don’t think if he was here he would he would have changed anything. I think he would have done the same thing again,” Lewis said.
Both Lewis and Pollock said it was in Hutchinas’ nature to help others.
“He was loved. You won’t find anybody that’s gonna say anything negative except the kid that shot him,” Lewis said.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help cover his funeral expenses.