Wichita Falls lost a son 15 years ago today when Bryan Lawrence was gunned down at a Hollywood Video in Houston.

On the morning of September 26, 2003, Bryan was scheduled to open the Hollywood Video at 9 am, but when the store manager arrived at 11 am, the doors were still locked and the area behind the service counter had been ransacked. The manager entered the store with a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy and found Bryan’s body in the back office, the victim of a robbery that netted less than $1,000.

No suspects were apprehended at the time, but in February of 2004, a $25,000 reward lead to the arrest of then 25-year-old Ray Anthony Edwards. Investigators believe Edwards had been a customer at the store before, and Bryan likely recognized him and let him into the store. It is thought that Bryan was killed because he could have identified the robber. Unfortunately, Edwards was later released before he could go to trial and it is now a cold case.

Bryan graduated from Wichita Falls High School in 1999 and was attending the University of Houston, studying creative writing.  An aspiring writer, Bryan also worked with his father on Civil War reenactments, even working on the film “The Alamo” before his death.  Fiercely loyal to his friends, the Lawrence house was a regular congregation point, so much so that Bryan’s father Jeff regularly joked that there was a neon “Open” sign over the house that only Bryan’s friends could see.  After his death, Bryan’s friends still regularly met at the Lawrence house, having parties and telling stories about times with Bryan. And Bryan’s parents wanted to make sure that Bryan’s memory and work lived on.

In 2007, after compiling what they could of Bryan’s writings, the Lawrences released two books.  “incomplet…” was the first release, a collection of poetry Bryan had been working on for years, dealing with his own life and the lives of those around him.  “The Everlasting Light” was released a little later, a fantasy novel with characters based on his friends and regular games of Dungeons and Dragons.  Bryan’s mother Diana was serious about making sure people knew of her son’s writing aptitude,

I wanted to get this out to people so they could see what he was capable of.  He was a writer, a good writer, and he would have been great.

Both books are still available on Amazon, and the Lawrence Family set up a scholarship program in Bryan’s name for WFISD seniors.

A lot has changed in the 15 years Bryan’s been gone. His friends have moved all across the country, the old Lawrence house has new owners, and Diana has joined her son at Crestview Memorial Park. But the memories and stories live on in Bryan’s books and friends, and that is impressive immortality for a man who was only 22-years-old when he was taken. It is still a regular occurrence to go by his grave and see gifts of Chicken McNuggets and Dr. Pepper, his food and drink of choice. As long as his books are read and we tell our children the crazy stories of Bryan Lawrence, he’ll always be around.

(Image via Tony Kerns)
(Image via Tony Kerns)

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