‘More than a mentor’: Community mourns father killed in Waffle House shooting

Craig Brewer and his son Corrian, 2, went to look at helicopters the weekend before Brewer was shot and killed at a Waffle House.

Craig “Red” Arttez Brewer and his 2-year-old son had a routine.

At least twice a month, Brewer picked up his son, Corrian, and took him to his favorite restaurant, Popeyes. After, they would park in front of Gainesville Regional Airport and watch the airplanes take off.

Sometimes, the 41-year-old father would take Corrian and his 11-month-old daughter, Caylin, to Depot Park and Albert “Ray” Massey Park.

The last time Corrian was with his father was the weekend before Brewer was shot and killed at a Waffle House, at 7611 W. Newberry Road.

On Sunday, Brewer was at the restaurant with his cousin Rasheeda Johnson and their nephew Manuel Norman when he began to pass out $20 bills to pay for customers’ orders.

When one customer became frustrated that he didn’t pay for her meal, the man she was with, Ezekiel Hicks, went outside and put a gun in his pants, according to an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He went back inside the restaurant and fought with Brewer before he shot him in the head.

“As soon as he fell, I was trying to stop the blood,” Johnson said.

Brewer wasn’t a stranger to paying for people’s meals, said Monique Gordon, his children’s mother.

“When he’s out there and he’s having a good time and he’s feeling good, that’s what he does,” Gordon said.

On Wednesday night, Brewer’s family held a vigil in his mother’s backyard, said Monique Ross, Brewer’s sister. Hundreds attended.

“By 7 o’ clock, there was people that couldn’t fit in the yard, so they were all gathered down the street,” Ross said.

Friends and family stood shoulder to shoulder praying and crying, Ross said. They lit candles that spelled out “Red,” a childhood nickname his mother gave him. They then released more than 200 red and blue balloons.

‘More than a mentor’: Community mourns father killed in Waffle House shooting

Craig Brewson's family held a vigil for him Wednesday in his mother's backyard. Candles were lit and hundreds of red and blue balloons were released. 

After, friends and family listened to songs from Dej Loaf, one of Brewer’s favorite artists, took pictures in front of his BMW and shared stories of how he touched their lives.

Brewer worked as a tile installer for On The Mark Tile, LLC, Ross said. He would often go to a Walmart and pay for kid’s bookbags and school supplies, Ross said. If he saw a kid who couldn’t pay for new shoes, he would buy shoes for them, too.

“He always helped people because his blessings were going to come back 10 times,” Gordon said. “He always said that.”

Brewer would also mentor Jerrica Rowe’s 8-year-old son, Demarion Grant.

“Craig was more than a mentor,” Rowe said. “He was a father figure to him.”

Rowe’s son would wait at the window for him to get back from work and then run to greet him, Rowe said. Brewer paid for his haircuts, gave him money to keep in his pockets and told him to stay out of trouble.

When Brewer moved away, Grant would beg Rowe to see him. The day Brewer died, Grant was supposed to talk to him in the afternoon about his classes.

“It’s very hard because my son just loved him to death,” Rowe said. “He instantly started crying and asking, ‘Why? Why? Why they took him? Why did it have to happen to him?’”

Brewer is survived by his mother Marsha Simmons; his brother Derrick Hill; his sister Monique Ross; his wife Monique Gordon; his children Corrian and Caitlin Brewer; and his nieces, nephews and grandnephew.

Katherine Wallace-Fernandez, 20, covers crime and breaking news for The Alligator and is a third year English major from Miami, Fl. She likes avoiding homework, taking naps, playing on her Nintendo Switch and reading.