WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In the office at Sugar Daddy’s Cabaret last weekend, with scantily-clad dancers walking in and out, Dexter Boston reviewed surveillance video in search of answers.
The question: Who and why did someone kill Greg Bryant?
A former five-star recruit who had played running back for Notre Dame, Bryant, 21, spent his final hour at this strip club May 7 before he was shot in the head.
The shooting has been ruled a homicide and Detective Lori Colombino of the West Palm Beach Police Department said no arrests have been made and no suspects have been identified. But Boston, a manager at Sugar Daddy’s, said he found something suspicious while combing through the surveillance video police recently obtained.
One clip shows Bryant dancing on stage with a local rap group; another shows him smoking a cigarette and sipping a drink; and additional footage shows him mostly keeping to himself in the club’s VIP section between his arrival at about 3:15 a.m. and his departure at about 4:30 a.m. Then, Boston cued up the video footage of what he described as a “suspicious” white Nissan Altima outside the club.
A heavyset man circled the car, tapped on the driver’s window and later climbed into the driver’s seat as Bryant prepared to leave the club. Bryant, behind the driver’s wheel of his stepfather’s black four-door Chrysler, pulled off the lot and turned right onto South Military Trail at 4:30 a.m. About 30 seconds later, the white Altima headed the same way.
At about 4:45 a.m., police said, an unknown assailant fired several times into Bryant’s vehicle, killing Bryant and injuring a 25-year-old friend of Bryant’s who was in the passenger’s seat.
Watching video of Bryant, Boston wiped tears from his eyes as recalled the running back’s exploits when Bryant was at nearby American Heritage High School. Referring to the unidentified driver of the “suspicious’’ white car, he said, “I don’t know if this is a person that has anything to do with (the homicide), but it’s a person you should question.’’
While the killer remained at large last week, Bryant’s former coaches and friends mourned Bryant’s death, recounted details from his life and final days and sought to protect his image.
More than 1,500 people attended Bryant’s funeral in nearby Delray Beach on Saturday and many remembered him as kind, generous and dedicated, even though, as one of Bryant’s former assistant coaches said, Bryant’s appearance suggested otherwise.
Jonathan King, who coached Bryant at American Heritage, said it would have been easy to draw conclusions based on the tattoos that covered Bryant’s arms, chest and back, his faux diamond earrings, the cut-off T-shirts he favored and the gold-teeth grill he liked to wear.
“It’s real easy to label him as a thug,’’ King told USA TODAY Sports.
Bryant worried his look might not fit in at Notre Dame, and when he arrived on campus in 2012, an assistant coach told him the gold teeth had to go.
He was Notre Dame’s second-leading rusher in 2014 with 289 yards but was ruled academically ineligible. He then resurfaced, with the teeth, at ASA College, a junior college in Miami. Lose the grill, the coach told him again. He complied.
In 2015, after getting the necessary grades at ASA College, Bryant transferred to the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He flashed his smile upon arrival and it was free of gold teeth.
Bill Clark, the team’s head coach, said Bryant had become a more dedicated student and his grade point average for this past semester was better than 2.5 for the first time since he enrolled at Notre Dame.
“He was just beaming,’’ Clark said. “He was so proud.’’
Friends said they saw the same thing when Bryant returned to Florida to celebrate Mother’s Day and his grandmother’s birthday. Family members declined to comment. But toward the end of his week in Florida, Bryant said he was eager to get back to school because of the street violence in South Florida, according to Marcus Fulmore, one of Bryant’s cousins and closest friends.
“If he felt like something was about to happen or he felt awkward being around a whole bunch of people and he felt something bad, he would leave,’’ Fulmore said. “He woudn’t put himself in that predicament.’’
Yet about 12 hours after their last conversation, Bryant was at Sugar Daddy’s — the site of multiple shootings over the past several years.
Maurice Grover, the passenger in Bryant’s car at the time of the shooting, supported what the surveillance video showed — Bryant appeared to be having a good time in a peaceful environment before they pulled out of the club parking lot. He’d been talking a lot about his future — not only at UAB, where he was expected to start at running back when the school relaunches its Division I program in 2017, but also of possible NFL career.
“He looked like he’d hit the Lotto,’’ said Sammy Symons, one of Bryant’s former high school teammates who was at the club that night.
Less than two hours later, Bryant had been gunned down by an unknown shooter. Marquis Gross, one of Bryant’s cousins, was among a legion of mourners trying to make sense of a senseless death.
“He was a good friend to everybody, and that could be a good thing or a bad thing,’’ Gross said. “The most innocent people are the ones getting killed around here.’’