Gregory Young was struggling in recent weeks, but he had always been a loving father to his three children, and he recently called his ex-wife with a promise.
“Thanks for giving me my kids,” Annetra Jenkins recalled him saying. “I’m going to find myself.”
Young, 42, died before he got the chance, it appears.
New Orleans police said an unknown assailant shot him in the head early Sunday morning inside Verret’s Lounge, a bar in the 1700 block of Washington Avenue. He died at a hospital about 2 a.m. Wednesday, Orleans Parish Coroner Jeffrey Rouse said.
Police have said little about the shooting, which made Young the eighth person to die in a gun homicide in New Orleans so far this year. Dawne Massey, a spokeswoman for the NOPD, said Wednesday morning that the case had not yet been assigned to a homicide detective.
Jenkins said that from the scant information she has heard, she does not believe the killing was a random act.
She said Young had just gotten off the phone after wishing his mother a happy birthday when — according to a police offense log — an “unknown male passed him up, and then two shots rang out.” Young was hit in the head.
Jenkins does not understand who would have wanted to kill her ex-husband. Their marriage did not work out, she said, but the 3rd Ward native was always a loving father and a hard worker.
Jenkins recalled the day she met her husband-to-be in 1999. She was hanging out near her father’s house, walking to a corner store, and Young — trying to get her attention — asked her to buy him some cigars.
“He gave me a $100 bill and said, ‘You can keep the change,’ ” Jenkins said. The ploy worked, and the two were married in 2002.
Young had a daughter, now 18, from a previous relationship. The pair soon had a daughter, now 15, and a son, now 13. Young was good to all the kids, Jenkins said, and passed on to his son in particular his love for baseball.
“Right now I have so many people just trying to tell me where to place him for high school,” Jenkins said of her son. “All this came from his father. There wasn’t one game his daddy missed.”
Young worked at Riverside Lumber from sunup to sundown and was well-liked by his colleagues, Jenkins said.
He went away to Washington, D.C., after Hurricane Katrina and was never quite the same when he returned, she said. The two finally divorced in 2008, but they remained friends and got back together a few times.
Young did not have a fixed address in recent months, Jenkins said, bouncing between a girlfriend’s house and a cousin’s place.
“We always wanted him to come up here and live with us, because we know that New Orleans is not a good place to be,” said Young’s sister, Lynn Young Hollis, who lives in Texas.
Jenkins said she rushed to University Medical Center shortly after she heard about the shooting. At first she thought someone was pulling a prank on her, but when she got to the hospital she realized he really had been shot. She was there with Young’s mother until just before midnight on Tuesday, then had to leave. About two hours later, Young died.