William Irvin found refuge in the simple pleasures of life.
When he wasn’t cutting hair or working on his music at a friend’s homemade recording studio, Irvin, 35, lived quietly, watching TV and spending time with his two teenage children and 1-year-old granddaughter.
After several brushes with the law in his younger days, Irvin became a dedicated family man who rarely got into trouble, said those who knew him.
But trouble found him earlier in January.
After an argument broke out at PYRMD nightclub around bar-close time on Jan. 8, Irvin was shot and killed outside of the recently opened downtown Minneapolis hangout. Friends and family say that even if Irvin was involved in a confrontation inside the club, he wasn’t the instigator.
“My son was a good boy,” said his mother, Cassandra Lewis, by phone from her home in Gary, Ind. “I know he got caught up in a little mischief and stuff, but he did his time and he never hurt anybody.”
Police have so far released little information about the slaying, the first of three in Minneapolis so far this year, other than to say that they believe Irvin and another woman were the intended targets in the shooting.
The attack occurred in the 300 block of 3rd Avenue N. about 2:20 a.m., as hundreds of people spilled out of the surrounding bars and nightclubs into the streets.
A gunman or gunmen opened fire, authorities said, killing Irvin and wounding the woman, who was taken to a nearby hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. No arrests have yet been announced.
Police stepped up patrols around the Warehouse District in response to the slaying, which Mayor Betsy Hodges condemned on her Facebook page, saying, “This type of violence will not be tolerated in any part of our city.”
“One homicide is too many; every victim leaves behind loved ones who grieve the loss,” she wrote.
As police continued to look for suspects, Irvin’s family and friends in Gary and Chicago struggled to come to terms with his death.
Relatives described Irvin as a good-hearted man who had settled into a quiet life after a tumultuous adolescence and early adulthood that earned him stints in prison.
“He wasn’t a saint, but he really had a great heart,” Lewis said of Irvin, the fifth of her 11 children. Fatherhood had changed him, she said.
The father of a 16-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son, Irvin also enjoyed spending time with and spoiling his toddler granddaughter, relatives said. He moved to the Twin Cities from Chicago to escape escalating violence in his hometown, they said, and got into hip-hop music, rapping under the monikers Lil’ Will and Murdaa.
He was not the first family member to die young.
Lewis lost another son, Irvin’s older brother, to gun violence more than two decades ago, she said, “and nothing was done about it like he was a piece of garbage.”
She said that she had to go to bed every night knowing that his killer is probably roaming the streets, adding: “I just can’t accept the fact that the same thing could happen to this son.”
In the days after Irvin’s death, dozens of messages of condolences poured in from friends and relatives on Facebook, remembering him as a jokester, who “always kept me from being lost out here,” as one man wrote.
Irvin lived simply, spending a lot of his time at home, watching TV and catching up on family news with relatives on the phone, according to his sister, Jhirneka.
“He was just the life of the party, because everybody loved him,” she said of her brother, a barber.
She called Irvin a “great person” and said that she was having trouble coming to terms with his death.
“I don’t regret where he’s at, because it’s everything that’s better than being on this earth,” she said.
She paused, adding that knowing that her brother was in a better place didn’t soften the pain of his loss: “I would’ve accepted my brother even paralyzed, but not dead.”