As Kenneth Hall Jr. walked out of the house in Avondale on Sunday morning, his mother noticed the clock on the wall read 10:31 a.m. She asked him why he was leaving so early and reminded him to be back in time for the Father’s Day barbecue.
Hall, 27, told his mother he had a few more tickets to sell for the party he was promoting that night.
“Mom, I’m finally going to make it,” Hall told his mother, Deidra. “After this, ma, you could quit.”
Hall never came back. The rising music promoter was gunned down on a secluded street in Algiers about 2:45 p.m. that day.
He was the victim, New Orleans police believe, of a killer motivated by greed, though hardly any details about the shooting have emerged.
On Thursday, police released a surveillance image of a black Chevy Avalanche SUV in the area at the time of the killing. They are looking for the driver, who may have information about the case but has not been named as a suspect.
“We believe (Hall) was in that area where he was murdered to meet someone to sell some tickets for his event that night,” Detective Amy Robinson said. “We don’t know who.”
Hall was a producer and promoter in the New Orleans music world, booking hip-hop artists and R&B crooners for some of the biggest venues in the city, including the House of Blues and Harrah’s Masquerade, where his Father’s Day party was planned.
It was going to be the final event in a day of parties starting with his mother’s afternoon barbecue, but Kenneth Hall Jr.’s father would not be present for any of it. Hall had called his namesake that morning in prison and told him he had big plans for him when he got out.
“Happy Father’s Day, bruh,” Hall said. “I can’t wait till you get home.”
Deidra Hall remembered that even before he turned 18, her son was writing contracts and negotiating deals. He was always a businessman — selling handbags and T-shirts out of his trunk at first, then working his way up to putting on all-night parties at popular clubs.
Hall brought touring acts like Monica, R. Kelly and Kevin Gates to New Orleans. Large clubs liked dealing with Hall, said bounce rapper and fellow promoter 10th Ward Buck, because he had a track record of running shows smoothly and keeping out “knuckleheads.”
“He was totally the guy: nice, cool, calm, collected,” Buck said. “Anytime anything happened between other promoters, he would be the one to step in and defuse the situation.”
Hall was a graduate of L.W. Higgins High School and had earned an associate degree in business from Dillard University, his mother said. With a single-minded dedication to growing his business, he had no time for violence, she said.
“What I’m gathering from his family and friends is that he wasn’t into any beef with anybody,” said Robinson, the detective. “Everybody who knew him said he was a really good guy.”
Back at home, Deidra Hall would sometimes squabble with her strong-willed son, but she always knew he loved her.
“He was nothing but a big baby, my baby,” she said.
In an Instagram post five weeks ago, Hall returned the love. “This lady fuss all day,” Hall wrote in a caption under a picture of his mother, “but will never turn her back.”
Hall would often keep a few tickets for himself to sell to customers directly instead of through the box office. It was a way for him to make a little more money; he wanted to help his mother retire.
On his Instagram page, Hall asked followers to call him directly to buy tickets. Investigators believe it is possible he was lured to the remote location on Marr Avenue near Donner Drive where he died.
Whoever killed Hall shot him inside his pickup, a black Nissan Titan. Responding officers found him dead at the scene.
Not long afterward on that sunny Sunday afternoon, Tamara Jackson, a contract worker for the Coroner’s Office who helps counsel families coping with murder, came to the scene and recognized Hall’s truck.
Jackson’s father was killed in New Orleans in 2000, and she meets many grieving families in her other job as the executive director of the victims support group Silence Is Violence. But when she realized that her longtime friend Deidra Hall’s son — the one she had watched grow up — had been killed, she “just broke.”
“How can I call my friend to tell her her baby has been murdered?” she asked herself. “Oh my God, it was heartwrenching.”
Since Jackson made that call, Hall’s family has been consumed with organizing a large candlelight memorial on Tuesday and making arrangements for his funeral, which will be at 8 a.m. Saturday at Gretna United Methodist Church. Hall is survived by two sisters, a brother, his mother and his father.
Deidra Hall said she is praying for whoever killed her child. She doesn’t want revenge on this earth, she said, citing Romans 12:19: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” But she asked that anyone with information about the crime call Robinson at (504) 658-5300 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.
“It could be one of their loved ones, their child,” she said. “I never thought that I would bury him.”