Grief-stricken relatives and friends say a young Jacksonville mother found slain inside a car along with her unharmed 3-year-old son Saturday night was “just a real sweetheart” devoted to her family and dedicated to providing the best possible life for the toddler.
Bria Kelsey, 23, was discovered shot to death inside a car about 5:45 p.m. in a parking lot on Normandy Boulevard at Lake Shore Drive on Jacksonville’s Westside. No arrests had been announced as of 6 p.m. Sunday by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the killing.
Her sister, Brittany Kelsey, wept Sunday night as she talked about her baby sister. Bria Kelsey was the youngest of five siblings – three girls and two boys – in the family and full of life.
During their childhood, the two sisters were so close as to be virtually inseparable. Brittany often watched over her baby sister, who was born with asthma and would call her “momma.” Their bond grew stronger as they grew up, Brittany Kelsey said.
“My baby is gone … She was a great mother, a great auntie and friend. Bria, she was the type of person that every person she came in contact with, they loved her because she had such a beautiful spirit …She was just so loving,” her sister said.
The two sisters last spoke to each other on the phone – about an hour before the slaying. They chatted about George-Florida game and what each would planned to wear for the festivities. Their other sister took a picture of Kelsey and sent it to her. Their telephone conversation, ended with each saying “I love you, talk to you later.” said Brittany Kelsey, adding she never thought it would be the last time they would speak.
“I just had talked to my sister literally an hour before it happened, at 4:45 p.m. And then I’m getting a phone call saying that she’s dead. It’s really, really killing all of us,” she said.
Sorrow and anguish filled public Facebook messages posted by others who knew Kelsey.
“Bria death hit home we lost a good one so soon man df this one hit me real good still can’t sleep or think str8 we all gone miss u GUL !” posted Doonk Moe about her slaying.
Jacksonville police responding to a report of a shooting found Kelsey dead in the passenger seat of a dark-colored sedan about 5:45 p.m. in a parking lot at 5354 Normandy Boulevard. Police gave her son, who wasn’t physically injured, to her family members who had rushed to the scene.
“He’s doing well but he’s very shaken up. I think the more people who love him are around him, he’s doing all right,” she said.
Homicide detectives were interviewing two witnesses from the scene Saturday night. Because it was very early in the investigation, detectives didn’t know whether the shooting occurred where the car was found, or elsewhere, Sgt. Jay Farhat of the Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit has said.
Recently promoted to manager at a local McDonalds, Kelsey had gone to Ed White High School, where she was on the A/B Honor Roll, and took some classes at Florida State College at Jacksonville. She was talking about talking some more classes at FSCJ, but being a good mother was her passion and first and foremost in her life, her sister said.
However, last year trouble intruded on the family.
Charges ultimately were dismissed by prosecutors, but Kelsey, then 22, was arrested following a domestic violence incident, police and court records show.
Police charged Kelsey with aggravated battery – domestic – with a deadly weapon, and criminal mischief, according to a July 26, 2015 Sheriff’s Office arrest report.
She was accused of punching her boyfriend in the face, giving him a bloody nose, and slashing his hand with a box cutter, and using the tool to scratch his car. The incident occurred after she found him lying on a bed with another woman, the arrest report showed.
The Office of State Attorney Angela Corey declined to prosecute the case, and dismissed the charges, an Aug. 3, 2015 disposition report showed.
Brittany Kelsey said there was more to the incident than told in the arrest report.
It was unknown yesterday, what led to her sister’s slaying.
“I really can’t believe it. I just want my sister to call me …” Brittany Kelsey said.
Anyone with information about the killing can contact the Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630–0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org, or call Crime Stoppers at (866) 845–TIPS.
Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075