DETROIT – A Detroit man was shot to death during a Labor Day weekend trip to Atlanta to attend Black Gay Pride. Forty-eight-year-old Kashman Avery, known to his friends by his last name, had just left Club 708 in the early morning hours of Sept. 2 when he stopped at a Shell gas station in Atlanta’s Midtown section. He was traveling with friends, fellow Detroiters, who remained in Avery’s black SUV while he attempted to go inside to ask for directions.
According to news reports, Avery was just outside the door to the station when he was approached by a panhandler asking for money. The two apparently exchanged words before the panhandler, later identified as Wanique Odwin, pulled out a pistol and shot Avery in the side. Avery was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital where he later died.
Odwin, meanwhile, fled the scene but was later found just a few blocks away. According to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Odwin, 26, told authorities he pulled out his gun because he felt threatened. Charged with murder, Odwin is being held without bond in the Fulton County Jail.
Back in Detroit, Avery’s friends remain in shock.
“Avery was a good guy,” said DeShawn Dozier, who had known Avery for more than a decade. “We were like brothers.”
Dozier said the circumstances surrounding Avery’s death hold a bitter irony, as Avery was one of the most generous men he knew.
“He would give you his last,” Dozier said. “Avery always gave people money when they asked. That’s the strange part. When we were together, even when I wouldn’t, Avery would always give people money. He was a great guy.”
Adding to the irony is the fact that Atlanta police had just completed a 30-day crackdown on panhandling prior to the shooting. The crackdown, in support of the city’s three-year-old ban on the practice, resulted in 50 arrests for “aggressive panhandling.” Just a week after Avery’s death, Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin announced a new initiative to curb panhandling. As part of its Give Change That Makes Sense campaign, the city will install “donation meters” throughout the downtown area, the contents of which will be distributed to homeless outreach programs.
‘A man of honor’
A native Chicagoan, Avery moved to Detroit nearly a decade ago. He formed his own security company, BC Security, and worked through the years with clubs Off Broadway East and Innuendo among others. He also frequently worked events put on by Strongarm Productions.
“He was probably one of the most dedicated, loyal people I know,” said Strongarm’s Anthony Winn. “One of the things that stood out about him was that he had a passion for what he believed in. He was disciplined and extremely reliable and you could just really, really count on the brother. He kept his word. And to me a person who keeps his word like that is always a man of honor. So I think Avery was a man of honor. He was really was.”