CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Tuesday night, friends and loved ones of the 20-year-old Cape Coral man who died after Cape Coral police said his stepfather shot him, will gather to remember the life of the young Marine.
Brian McKellop Jr. died last Wednesday night after CCPD said he was trying to protect his mother during a fight with her husband, who was McKellop's stepfather— 53-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.
He later died at a hospital, leaving so many questions to go with so many memories for a community who called him a “hero”.
“There are so many ways we could get justice for him, but it’s just too hard to formulate right now,” said Jessica Hattermer, a friend of McKellop’s since fifth grade.
Friends of McKellop said that he graduated from Ida Baker High School where he was part of the JROTC program, played basketball, and ran track.
“Heaven gained another angel, a strong one … with a heart of gold,” said Hatteamer. "Besides the fact that he was an athlete, he was a mentor, he was a leader and most of all he was a friend, more like a brother.”
Words like “extremely humble” and “dedicated” were how McKellop's friends described him while remembering his days after his violent death.
“What hurts the most is knowing that we lost such an amazing man not just an amazing man but a really honorable person who had so much going for him,” said Celine Lobocchiaro, a friend of McKellop since middle school.
McKellop completed Marine training and at the time of his death, was in the reserves. He attended Florida Atlantic University, pursuing a computer science degree.
“He was just chasing his dreams,” said Hatteamer. “It was really hard to wrap my head around that concept.
“I just remember that energy he carried. He always knew how to light up a room when he came in,” Hattermer said.
“Brian will always live on in our hearts forever, and he wasn’t just number one on the field. He’ll always be number one in our hearts,” Lobocchiaro said.
Tuesday night, friends and family gathered at the Watch Club Beach in Cape Coral for a vigil and memorial.