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Friends, family celebrate life of Tallahassee man killed in weekend shooting

Valerie Crowder
DeMario Murray's friends and family members pose for a group photo at Murray's celebration of life ceremony at Springsax Park in Tallahassee on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. Murray was killed in a shooting outside a liquor store on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2022.

A man who was recently shot and killed outside a liquor store in Tallahassee was celebrated by family and friends on Sunday.

Demario "Ro" Murray, 40, was among eight other bystanders struck by bullets fired into the parking lot of Half-Time Liquors from the McDonald's across the street last weekend, according to the Tallahassee Police Department. Murray was the only one who lost his life.

Murray's long-time friend Alonzo "Zo" Lee says his friend was well-known and beloved in the community, which is why so many came out to remember him. “Everybody out here had some type of bond with him," Lee said, describing the celebration of life as akin to a "big class reunion."

Murray attended Rickards High School, where he also played football in the 1990s.

"A lot of people from Rickards are coming together," Murray said. "The DJ went to school with us. The cook went to school with us.”

So far this year, city police have reported 95 shootings — causing 17 deaths, according to data compiled by the Tallahassee Democrat.

Police say the shooting that took Murray's life was caused by three rival gangs from Gadsden County. Murray and the seven other people shot weren’t involved.

City commissioners plan to spend $5 million over the next few years to reduce gun violence.

Murray had two daughters and had two jobs, including one at Florida State University. Lee, who’s 42, has been friends with Murray for 30 years. Lee says he remembers Murray as "down-to-earth."

“He was always working," Lee said. "Not working, he was with his kids.”

He and Murray spoke regularly, Lee said. Their kids played together, and now Lee plans to step in and help Murray's mother and daughters get through their loss.

Valerie Crowder
Renee Armstrong, right, hands out T-shirts to raise money for DeMario Murray's daughters, who lost their father after he was killed in a recent shooting in Tallahassee.

Right now, the family is raising money for Murray's daughters by selling T-shirts honoring Armstrong for $25. So far, they've raised about $4,000 through Cash App. The family is accepting donations through the account: $longliveRosteen.
Renee Armstrong, 40, is Murray’s cousin. They grew up together, and she says she looked up to him.

"He was the leader," she said. "He taught us love."

At family reunions, he was always the "life of the party," Armstrong said. "Just always funny, jovial."

Armstrong says she was shocked when she found out about the shooting. “Wrong place, wrong time," she said. "Of all people, why him?”

Murray’s death has received widespread local news coverage — shining a light on the problem of gun violence in Tallahassee. Armstrong says local leaders need to do more.

“We need action. We need something to actually be done, other than saying: ‘Oh this was a man of the community, loving guy, loving father.’" Armstrong said. "We need more than that because this is happening too often.”

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.