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Remember: ‘It’s a sin to Kill a Mockingbird’

For probably thousands of passersby, Dale Brooks was just a vagrant, a guy wandering the streets of Natchez.

Many probably didn’t give him a second glance, and any who did likely looked at him as a merely a bum, a non-contributing member of society and went on about their lives.

But for the rare few who took the time to stop their cars and talk to the man, they found themselves blessed, for they knew a different side of Brooks, a side that defied his outward appearance.

Many people knew Brooks not by name, but simply as the “Guitar Man.”

The moniker came from his habit of carrying around his guitar as a way of keeping it safe. You see Brooks didn’t have a good place to secure his prized possession because he was homeless, camping in the woods near the Natchez Walmart.

“He was a dear friend, down on his luck. He wasn’t a violent man but a troubled man with a big heart,” a friend wrote online.

The woman went on to explain that Brooks was a Christian who knew the Bible well.

“He knew enough songs to keep you entertained for awhile,” the woman wrote.

Another person wrote, “He sang to me in the shoe shop across from Popeye’s. I’ll never forget it; he was so sweet.”

“Dale was my friend. I just talked to him a long time the other day about the Lord, and he had a voice out of this world,” another person wrote.

“He spoke his mind and sometimes did so loudly.

Shooting him in the back though seems so senseless,” another man wrote, adding, “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

The latter is a reference to Harper Lee’s acclaimed book, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

A character in the book explains that the mockingbirds harm no one and simply sing for the enjoyment of others.

Like a mockingbird, it seemed Brooks’ purpose in life was to provide others joy through song.

Perhaps that’s what made last week’s events so deeply troubling.

Police don’t know what happened in the final minutes of Brooks’ life.

But they know he was found dead Wednesday morning of an apparent gunshot wound to the back, lying on Gaile Avenue.

Police said their investigation indicated the killing was not random, meaning the person who killed Brooks.

“We believe there was some kind of encounter with him,” Natchez Police Department Capt. Scott Frye said. “This was not random. Based on information from investigations we know this was not random.”

Police said late last week they had no suspects.

Brooks’ murder shocked many people, those who knew him personally, of course, but others who had only seen him around.

“Horrible and unacceptable,” one person wrote.

“What the heck? When did Natchez become the Wild West?” a resident asked online.

Hours after his murder, the people who called Brooks a friend, though still in shock, were trying to put it all in perspective.

“Dale was a Christian and a true believer in the Lord so I’m content in believing he’s having a joyous reunion with his Mama, Miss Francis,” a woman wrote. “Right now my heart is hurting for Dale.

“I hope his murderer is caught,” she wrote. “I’m crying for my friend and praying for the violence to stop.”

“This is sad that people are this cruel to kill such a harmless man but God gained a awesome angel, and he’s singing and playing in heaven now,” a friend wrote. “He told me he wasn’t homeless anymore (since) he called the woods home but now he’s really home.”

Despite whatever troubles led to Brooks being on the streets, God had a plan for him, one that provided joy to others through song.

And it’s important for all of us to remember; God has a plan for each of us, too. All we have to do is follow His lead.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11, Holy Bible.

God bless Dale Brooks and those whose lives he touched.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

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