Mix of grief, energy at Markeis McGlockton funeral

Published July 28 2018
Updated July 28 2018

LARGO — Inside Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday, memories of Markeis McGlockton were everywhere.

On a banner near the altar. On T-shirts in the pews. In speeches by loved ones delivered just a few feet from where McGlocton lay in a wooden casket, killed in a "stand your ground’’ shooting last week that has drawn national attention.

"He showed me family was the most important thing," said his brother, Karohn Walker, 21.

"Markeis would give you anything," said Andre Danford, who is engaged to McGlockton’s sister, Markeisha. "Let Markeis’ death be reason to make preparations in life to live better, do better."

His parents, Michael McGlockton and Monica Moore-Robinson, sat in the front pew with their son’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, who gave McGlockton one last hug before his mother closed the casket. The women looked on with somber faces. Sunglasses hid the elder McGlockton’s eyes.

But the funeral, which the family termed a "Celebration of Life’’ also had the feel of a community ready to mobilize.

"It’s not over," Pastor Carlton Childs, president of the Upper Pinellas County Ministerial Alliance, told the 250 mourners who filled the church.

Though the service started with a request to refrain from politics, two people were stationed in the hall outside with voter registration forms.

Chris King, a Democratic candidate for governor, was in attendance. So were Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch and a representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg.

Crist, along with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and three other members of Congress, have called for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate the July 19 shooting, which began with an argument over a parking space.

The days after included a vigil, a protest, two news conferences and Jacobs’ hiring of prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, known for representing the families of unarmed black men killed in violent encounters, including Trayvon Martin.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Community holds vigil in Clearwater for man killed in parking lot dispute, protests ‘stand your ground.’

And there was the video of the shooting, played over and over on news sites and social media.

It shows Michael Drejka, 47, who is white, shooting McGlockton, 28, who is black, in a convenience store parking lot.

Authorities say Drejka confronted Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend, about parking in a handicap-reserved space without a permit.

McGlockton went up to Drejka and shoved him to the ground with both hands. Seconds later, while still on the ground, Drejka pulled out his handgun and shot McGlockton. The father of three was pronounced dead soon after.

Drejka said he was he was in fear of being attacked again. He owned the gun legally and had a concealed carry permit.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Florida’s "stand your ground’’ law precluded him from arresting Drejka, reigniting furious debate over the controversial measure.

The Sheriff’s Office will soon forward the case to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office, who can still charge Drejka.

At the funeral, Pastor Konrad McCree Jr., tasked with delivering Saturday’s eulogy, addressed the mourners with pointed words from Psalm 37:

"Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.’’.

"All of us have been in situations where it seems as if the evildoer will win," the pastor said, speaking his own words now. "All of us have been in situations where it appears that the one who has done wrong will get away ... The Lord has instructed me to tell you today that you don’t have to worry because soon is on the way."

The crowd erupted.

Times staff photographer Octavio Jones contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at [email protected] or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.