Seventeen-year-old Reanna doesn’t know what to believe about her father’s death at a Jacksonville Beach restaurant. She’s read that he turned purple after being shot in the face. She’s read the shooter is a former or off-duty police officer. Another website reported the shooter was an undercover cop. She’s heard so many different and contradictory stories she’s stopped reading the blog posts and the news accounts.
“I’ve read so much stuff that I don’t know what to believe,” she said. “I just stopped reading it. I don’t know [what happened].”
Zachariah “Nas T” James Tipton, 40, of Fernandina Beach was shot and killed June 26 at Nippers Beach Grille about 8 p.m. after a fight that started outside the Beach Boulevard establishment. Police said investigators interviewed at least 200 people during the investigation. Two weeks later, no criminal charges have been determined.
Reports on blogs, social media, websites and by family and elsewhere have consistently said the shooter had law enforcement ties and has received special treatment. The two motorcycle clubs named have been the Black Pistons and Iron Order.
The Jacksonville Beach Police Department released a statement Tuesday in an attempt to dispel some of the rumors. There has been “a great deal of misinformation circulating in the public” about the incident, Sgt. Thomas Crumley, spokesman for the Police Department, said Tuesday.
“The shooter in this case is not and never has been a law enforcement officer,” the statement says. “To the best of our knowledge, no one directly involved in this incident is or ever was a law enforcement officer. This was a dispute between members and/or associates of two motorcycle clubs that ended in violence. The deceased was struck by one round and died as a result of that wound.”
Glynda Purdy said her son, Zach, was shot twice in the head. She said a doctor told her that. Purdy said the gunshot wounds were behind his ear and another one to the temple. She’s angry and wants her son’s killer to face justice.
“I want to see justice served. If not by police, then by God,” she said.
She started the Facebook page Justice for Zach. The following is a post on the Justice for Zach page:
“Zach was approached by an off duty cop and other members of the Jax, FL, Iron Order group. There was a fight and Zach broke his opponent’s nose. That man came back with other men, four, and one shot Zach unawares. Two execution style shots. One to the temple on one side, one behind the ear on the other. The shooter passed the gun off to the undercover guy who took the blame for this cowardly murderous act. This allowed the killer to leave. One guy was held but has been released.”
Crumley said the department would be making no other comments Tuesday but that the case has been filed with the State Attorney’s Office.
He said due to decisions remaining to be made about potential charges, the shooter’s name and the others involved are not being released at this time.
Purdy said she was proud of her son. He was a father of three children. She said it’s been very difficult for all of the family. She said Tipton was a member of the Black Pistons, but that it wasn’t a dominating factor in his life. She said her son said it was like a hunting club.
About the fight at Nippers she said, “The people left and came back and Zach was shot execution style. It doesn’t matter if they were policemen or not,” she said.
She said she’s heard similar accounts of what happened from several different people. She said police haven’t been forthcoming with information about the shooting.
“I don’t know how well this is being investigated,” she said. “I really don’t.”
She said she’s a person of faith and believes God will punish whoever did kill her son, but she wants to see them in court “so people know what the monsters looked like.”
Reanna said her father was the life of the party. She said he loved to play guitar and he always made people smile. At night, he always made sure to lock the back door, she said.
He would always play “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd at family reunions.
Reanna sang that song at her father’s funeral.
“He loved when I used to sing.”
Derek Gilliam: (904) 359-4619