Tre’Mel Dupree Dean had made plans to jettison his hometown of Topeka and find a new life in California.
The 24-year-old had no idea what his future on the West Coast would hold but was looking forward to connecting with a girlfriend and doing something different.
“He was living his life and trying to find his way,” older brother T’Juan Dean of Topeka said Sunday.
Tre’Mel Dean was killed early Sunday at a packed intersection at 11th and Massachusetts streets in downtown Lawrence. At the scene, officers encountered a large crowd and found five people had been shot, three fatally.
Dean had attended an event Saturday night at the Granada Theater, 1020 Massachusetts St., with his sister and several others. Afterward, Tre’Mel and the others were on the street when a fistfight began, followed by gunshots. T’Juan Dean said his brother was not involved in the fight and was an innocent victim.
“He never did nothing to nobody,” he said. “He never had any problems with nobody.”
Also killed were Leah Elizabeth Brown, 22, of Shawnee, and Colwin Lynn Henderson III, 20. Relatives of Henderson said that he and Dean were friends.
T’Juan Dean said a male cousin was one of the two people who were wounded. Their injuries were not life-threatening.
Birdie Dean, Tre’Mel Dean’s grandmother, said details of what led to the shooting remain unclear and the family is trying to piece together what happened.
“It is unreal that this has happened,” she said. “It’s taken all of the family by shock. It sounded like he was in the wrong place.”
The family had lived in Kansas City, Kan., for a number of years but moved back to Topeka, where Tre’Mel Dean’s mother was raised.
“Tre’Mel was really a sweet young man who minded his own business. He enjoyed life,” Birdie Dean said.
Dean attended Highland Park High School in Topeka but did not graduate. Aside from wanting to move to California, Dean had toyed with the idea of becoming an over-the-road truck driver. He wasn’t married and did not have any children.
Growing up in Topeka, Dean played organized baseball. He was a pitcher and outfielder. He also enjoyed football.
T’Juan Dean described his brother, who was the second oldest of five children, as funny and easygoing.
“He was my playmate growing up,” T’Juan Dean said. “He came after me, so he was my playmate. I’m going to miss him.”
No arrests have been made. Anyone with information should call Lawrence Police at 785-832-7509 or Crime Stoppers of Lawrence and Douglas County at 785-843-TIPS (8477).
“We’re all taking baby steps right now because it just happened,” said T’Juan Dean. “So, I’m still lost at words about the situation.
“Like I said, he had nothing to do with it (the shooting). For this to happen, it is just now hitting everybody. He had nothing to do with anybody.”