TAMPA — Kenyatha Walker was a big, strong guy. You had to be if you worked armed security at nightclubs.
Underneath the tough exterior, though, Walker was a “teddy bear,’’ said the general manager at Supa D Tropical Bar and Grill, where Walker was working early Sunday when he was shot to death.
In the few months he worked at the club, Walker, who worked during the week as a security guard in Ocala, became known as a generous and respectful employee, said general manager Dwight Blake.
“He was very sociable and friendly,” Blake said. “He took his job seriously to the fullest.’’
Walker worked security at clubs in Ocala, where he lived, and began working Friday and Saturday nights at Supa D, 810 E. Skagway Ave., about four months ago, Blake said. Walker worked at the front door checking identifications and handling general security, Blake said.
Early Sunday, someone ran into the club and said a security officer had been shot. Blake and others rushed outside to find Walker lying on the ground a short distance from the Supa D. Blake said Walker had been shot but not robbed.
“Still speechless right now,” Blake said. “Still in disbelief.”
Tampa police continue to investigate the case and have asked the public to help in solving the fatal shooting that occurred shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday.
The shooting happened near the club’s closing time, and police think there was a crowd outside that may have seen the shooting or the suspect and can assist police.
“We are still investigating to determine what led up to the shooting, including any motives that may have led to Walker being shot,” said Janelle McGregor, a Tampa police spokeswoman. “We are following up all leads. We definitely need the community’s help in pointing us in the right direction.”
Police have provided few details about the motive and the suspect. A thin black man wearing a white cloth on his face and no shirt shot Walker multiple times with an assault rifle, McGregor said. Walker, 35, was taken to a local hospital, where he died.
Blake, co-workers and friends are still trying to comprehend why Walker was not at his post at the door. He may have walked someone to their car who asked for assistance, Blake said. He didn’t hesitate to help others, he said.
Blake said Walker had never complained that he had been threatened or was in fear for his life. He said the club, which celebrated a Caribbean theme on Saturday night, is friendly. People who visit the club all know each other, Blake said.
“We have no problem whatsoever,” Blake said. “It’s a family atmosphere.”
In November, however, there was a shooting near the club, where one man died and another man was injured, police said. No one has been arrested in that shooting.
Barry said they are devastated over Walker’s death and wondering what happened.
“It’s real sad,” Blake said. “We’re still in the dark.”