‘Peacemaker’ Dies Trying To Stop Fight With Family, Sanitation Workers

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – A 42-year-old husband and father killed early Sunday in Birmingham’s Lakeview District died the way he lived – trying to keep the peace, his grieving wife said.

Larry Duncan was shot about 4 a.m. when an argument between his family members and two on-duty Birmingham City workers ended in gunfire. His wife, Brandy Duncan, and police said it appeared Duncan was trying to stop the fight when he got caught in the crossfire.

“He was just a stand-up guy,” Brandy Duncan said. “He always tried to diffuse things, make things better. That was him. That was Larry.”

About 4:02 a.m. Sunday, South Precinct officers responded to the 2800 block of Seventh Avenue South after police working off-duty in the area heard shots fired and called for assistance. When they arrived, they found Duncan lying in the roadway suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, said Sgt. Bryan Shelton.

Duncan was taken to UAB Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Duncan’s family member – his wife’s cousin – was found in the same area suffering from a gunshot wound to his right leg. That man – an off-duty Birmingham City worker – was taken to Grandview Medical Center by Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service, where he was treated and released. After treatment, he was taken to Birmingham Police Headquarters for questioning and is now being held in the city jail pending the ongoing investigation.

A third man – an on-duty city sanitation worker – was also shot multiple times and was taken to UAB Hospital in a Birmingham City sanitation work truck. His condition has not been released, but Shelton said it appears he is going to survive.

Duncan had been out with his two family members. It appears they were leaving the area when the argument between one of them erupted with two City of Birmingham Street and Sanitation Department workers who were in the area collecting trash. During that altercation, one of the on-duty city workers exchanged gunfire with Duncan’s family member, who also is employed in public works.

Both city employees and Duncan were struck by gunfire. Duncan did not fire any shots, and does not carry a weapon, police and family said.

Shelton said it’s not clear why an on-duty city employee had a handgun on him at work. “The possession of the handgun will be an internal city investigation as opposed to a criminal one unless evidence is found otherwise,” Shelton said.

Brandy Duncan said it’s ironic that she and her husband less than 24 hours before his death had talked about all of the shooting-related killings of late. “He was just talking about how these young guys need to stop with the gun violence,” she said. “He said that’s why he didn’t carry a gun.”

Larry Duncan grew up in north Birmingham’s Hooper City community, and graduated from Carver High School. After high school, he attended Virginia College where he studied computers. His most recent job was with R+L Carriers, a Birmingham-based freight shipping and logistics company for whom he transported goods back and forth between Birmingham and Ohio multiple times a week.

In fact, he had just returned home from one of those trips Saturday when one of their family members decided to come in town, and several of the cousins decided to go out together.

During the night, Duncan’s wife tried to call his cellphone and got no answer. Then, a short time later, she received a call saying he’d been shot in the arm. She rushed to UAB Hospital, where doctors told her he’d actually been shot in the neck and didn’t survive.

“I said, ‘This can’t be real.’ It still doesn’t feel like this is real,” Brandy Duncan said.

The couple has been together 20 years, and married in 2001. They have two sons, ages 20 and 10. The older son just arrived in Birmingham Friday on a 10-day pass from the U.S. Army and had not yet even seen his father. “He’s in shock,” Brandy Duncan said. “He’s trying to be OK.”

The younger son, too, is taking his father’s death hard. “You couldn’t tear him away from his Dad. That was his world,” she said. “He said, ‘So there’s no more Dad? I’m not going to see my Dad ever again?”

At that point, he went and put on his shoes and said, “My Dad will be back, and we’re going to play a game.” ”He’s in disbelief,” Brandy Duncan said.

Larry Duncan was well-known and much-loved in the community he grew up in. Many of those childhood friends have posted about their memories, and their sorrow, on Facebook as news spread about his death.

“Larry was a super good guy. He didn’t bother nobody. He was very loving, very caring. He was a peacemaker,” Brandy Duncan said. “He’s never been the type to be involved in drama. He always stayed away from stuff like that and tried to diffuse things.”

She said she’s shocked that her husband’s life ended the way it did. “Not Larry,” she said. “You would have thought Larry would die from old age. He was in great health.”

Brandy Duncan got to spend a few minutes with her husband at the hospital after doctors told her he had died. It was a heart-wrenching goodbye. She said she asked him why he left her, and told her how much she was going to miss him.

“To see those tears in his eyes and the dried tears on his cheeks, it was hard. I just kept staring in his eyes,” she said. “It is an image that will never leave my mind.”

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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