‘I felt him leave me:’ Man killed in West Palm shooting had baby on the way

Kerwin Jamar Richards’ world was about to change. 

He was going to be a dad. 

The 23-year-old spent most of his life filling the father-figure role for his younger siblings and nephews, said his sister, Kelsey Penny. He was ready — and eager  — to raise his own child, she said.

Richards was shot to death early Saturday along Belvedere Road near its intersection with Georgia Avenue. Bullets also hit at least three businesses on that block. 

Police said Richards ran out of a vehicle after it crashed into a parked car on the north side of the road. He was shot and killed while he was outside of the vehicle, according to authorities.

Police wouldn’t comment on whether Richards was driving or whether anyone was in the vehicle with him. They did not provide details about which direction Richards’ vehicle was heading, nor did they say from where they believe the suspected gunman came.  

All they’ve said is that the shooting was targeted.

Penny got a call early that morning that her big brother was hurt. Before she made it to St. Mary’s Medical Center, she knew — “I just felt it in my soul that he was gone. I felt him leave me,” she said.

Born 20 months apart, Penny and Richards were known as “the twins.” Their grandmother raised them in Riviera Beach in a neighborhood where they made lifelong friends, and Richards, as a teenager, met the woman with whom he’d conceive a child. 

Richards went to Palm Beach Gardens High School, Penny said, and played basketball on community teams.

Richards was an entertainer, Penny said, frequently cracking jokes and dancing.

As a John F. Kennedy Middle School student in 2008, Richards performed in a show put together by other middle school students and an international theater company at the Kravis Center’s amphitheater.

In a Palm Beach Post photo of some of the performers, then-13-year-old Richards is seen front and center doing a break-dancing move on the floor. 

“He was so full of life,” Penny said. “He was loved in every neighborhood.”

Together the siblings got through their grandmother’s death, Richards’ handful of run-ins with the law and multiple friends falling victim to the violence of the streets. 

Penny never expected her brother to become one, too.

Richards’ close friend Timothy James "Teejay" Frederick was shot to death last month in Riviera Beach. In a Facebook post, Richards remembered his “lil brother” and how much the 19-year-old looked up to him. When Frederick would say how he wanted to be like Richards when he was older, Richards would tell him he “gone be ever better.”

Frederick’s killing hit Richards hard, Penny said.

Since June, 16 people have been killed in Palm Beach County, according to a Palm Beach Post database. Half of those homicides happened in the West Palm or Riviera Beach city limits.

During the last two weeks, Penny and Richards were particularly inseparable, she said. He took his sister and his nephews to Rapids Water Park. He gave her a key to his home in West Palm Beach and told her to bring her boys, ages 4 and 2 months, over often.   

Richards was a father figure for Jamarion, and the little boy perks up at the mention of “Uncle Kerwin.” 

“He died,” Jamarion said matter-of-factly. “But I love him.”

Anyone with information about Saturday’s shooting is asked to contact West Palm police or Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at 800-458-TIPS (8477).

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