The two young Greenwood men who recently died from gun violence were each in the Army National Guard, according to their families.
They also were a lot of fun.
Jy’quavious Williams was known for his love of dancing, and Valdemir Beverly had been cooking for his family and friends since he was a boy.
Both are being remembered as good-natured.
“He was very smart, intelligent, well-known — loved to dance,” Lula Williams said of her 21-year-old son, Jy’quavious.
He and 23-year-old Juan Robinson were shot Tuesday night at Curtis Moore Apartments along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Both men were transported by ambulance to Greenwood Leflore Hospital, where Williams died. Robinson was later taken to a hospital in Jackson.
Around noon the next day, Beverly was shot in the 300 block of Jackson Street. The 22-year-old was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Beverly’s father, Darius Gillion, said, “He was full of energy, had a loving smile, was very entertaining.”
Both victims had attended Greenwood High School. Williams graduated in 2017; Beverly graduated the year before.
Skii Haslett, who knew both from his days at Greenwood High, said Williams and Beverly had probably talked during their high school days. “They’re both good people,” Haslett said.
Williams was “well-known all over Facebook for dancing,” his mother said. “He’d been dancing since he was in grade school.”
On Facebook, Williams had gone by his nickname, “Jock.”
Williams had just completed his first year at Mississippi Valley State University, where he worked as a student recruiter for the school and was studying health, physical education and recreation.
On campus, he was a part of a Stay Woke University, a community organization and entertainment group located at historically black universities throughout Mississippi and Louisiana.
“You have to ‘stay woke’ because they’re going to entertain you. It’s like, don’t sleep on them — stay woke on them because they’re going to entertain you,” his mother, Lula, said with a laugh.
Antwoine Williams Jr., a graduate student at MVSU and founder of MVSU’s Stay Woke University, said Jy’quavious Williams (no relation) “just loved to dance. He loved to make people laugh, like a little comedian; he loved to entertain people.”
Shondrika Lee, an older cousin of the shooting victim, said he was “the sweetest-looking kid.”
“He was my baby, and he had always been my baby,” she said.
Casmine O’Bryant, Williams’ sister, who is in the U.S. Air Force, said her brother cared deeply about family. She recalled when he had visited her in Georgia, where she’s stationed, for her 23rd birthday.
Kaneisha Burns, who met Williams through MVSU’s Stay Woke University, considered Williams a little brother who “was so full of life.”
Everyone within Stay Woke University is taking Williams’ death hard since they had just seen him June 14, Burns said.
Aaliyah Gillion, a cousin of Beverly’s who considers herself more of a sister, grew up with him in the same household.
“He was overall a great guy. He always made sure the elderly never went without in our family,” she said.
Beverly had a girlfriend, and the two were expecting a daughter. He served for two years in Afghanistan, Aaliyah said.
He was a big fellow but a gentle giant, Aaliyah added, recalling “the love he gave, the love he showed, deep down in his heart.”
Beverly’s father, Darius, said his son was an excellent cook who began his craft as an 8-year-old. He’d cook for up to 12 people, concocting dishes such as fried chicken and chicken spaghetti, Darius said.
Beverly had been planning a baby shower for his future daughter for July 4, his father said. He was supposed to pick up his younger brother in Memphis this coming week for the event.
Every night, Beverly would pop by Westside, the restaurant and grocery store his father runs on Gibbs Street, to cook meals for his pregnant girlfriend. He would also jokingly argue with his father “just to walk out the door and tell me that he loves me,” his father said.
“I miss my son. I hate that he won’t be able to raise his little girl,” Darius said.
The manner in which Williams and Beverly died has caused family members to speak out against gun violence.
The deaths of Beverly and Williams increased Leflore County’s homicide count to nine; all but one of the deaths have been from gun violence.
“They just need to put these guns down. It’s sad because they’re shooting innocent people, which he was one of,” Williams’ mother said.
Another cousin of Williams’, Johnnie Liddell, said: “They need to put these guns down because he was an innocent bystander. ... They took him away from his mom. It’s senseless, and it’s got to stop.”
Beverly’s father said that immediately before his death, his son was speaking with a friend along Jackson Street. Suddenly a car came off Cotton Street, turned onto Jackson Street and Beverly “got shot in the head,” his father said.
Darius Gillion said he was “managing” since the shooting. He said no one who had witnessed the incident had come forward to speak with the police.
As of Friday, no one had been charged in either killing.
Skii Haslett is also trying to cope with another gun death in his life.
Just two months earlier, Haslett lost his uncle, Eric Haslett, to gun violence. Eric Haslett was fatally shot in front of his mother’s house on Henderson Street on April 25.
“I’ve been trying to hold on because I’ve been losing close people for the past two months,” Haslett said.
•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or email@example.com.