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April 16, 2014

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He was my hero’: Mother, friends mourn victim in shooting at Drai’s

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Steve Marcus

A security officer stands in front of Bally’s after an early morning shooting left one person dead and two wounded in Drai’s, a nightclub inside Bally’s, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013. A suspect is in custody, police said.

One Dead in Shooting at Bally’s

The Bally's marquee sign advertises Drai's, a nightclub inside Bally's, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013. An early morning shooting left one person dead and two wounded in Drai's Monday. A suspect is in custody, police said. Launch slideshow »

Norma Sattiewhite was at a friend’s home for a meeting Monday afternoon when her phone rang. It was her roommate, who never calls, and she had a message.

A lady in uniform wanted to meet with her at home. Sattiewhite’s gut told her something had happened to her son, and then she saw the Clark County Coroner’s vehicle parked outside her house.

She knew what it meant. Her son was dead.

It took her a while to calm down before she could listen to the woman’s message. Sattiewhite's son, 40-year-old Kenneth Dion Brown, was shot twice attempting to wrestle a gunman who already had shot two security guards at Drai’s.

“That was my baby,” Sattiewhite, 62, said Tuesday, her voice shaking with grief. “I’m just glad he didn’t lose his life in a police chase or something like that.”

A Metro Police arrest report indicates that Brown tackled alleged shooter Benjamin Frazier, after Frazier possibly pointed the gun at customers as he tried to leave the scene. A disagreement over a $30 cover charge apparently prompted the shootings.

Metro Sheriff Doug Gillespie called Brown’s actions heroic. Sattiewhite simply said Brown was her hero.

“It made me feel proud how he gave his life for others,” Sattiewhite said.

Sattiewhite described her son as the classic class clown growing up who also liked to help people and could diffuse a situation with conversation.

He worked as a standup comedian in Los Angeles and looked up to Richard Pryor. Sometimes Brown's jokes would be at his mother's expense, but they were always respectful and funny.

To Brown’s friends in Los Angeles, he was known as “KD” — their always-positive buddy with the quirky sense of humor who prided himself on being a black Republican.

“He had a good spirit about him,” said his friend Yoursie Thomas. “That’s what really drew me to him. Not too many people possess that vibe.”

For a while, Thomas, Brown and another friend, P.J. Stansbury, shared a cramped apartment as they gave their budding comedy careers a shot while working at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, Calif. They all met in 2002.

“Comedy is a struggle,” Stansbury said. “It doesn’t pay until it actually pays, if that makes any sense.”

In April 2012, Brown moved to Las Vegas to be closer to his mother and work as a club promoter on the Las Vegas Strip, but he had plans to perform standup comedy again, Sattiewhite said. The last time she saw her son was three weeks ago before he left for a trip to Southern California.

Sattiewhite told her son the same thing she’s said to him a thousand times before — to take care and that she loves him. All she wants now is her son’s body back from the coroner’s office.

“He was my hero,” Sattiewhite said. “I don’t have any insurance, so I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

She harbors no hatred toward Frazier and has forgiven him based on the virtues of her religion.

Questions linger in the minds of his friends, though. For instance: What made Brown insert himself in a dangerous situation? Was it the proximity? Or the desire to shield others from harm?

“He might have just reacted,” Stansbury said.

Brown was a nice guy with an average build, Stansbury said. He was not a troublemaker.

When Brown visited last week in Los Angeles, the old friends simply hung out, reminiscing about past fun and stopping by old haunts. Brown was considering moving back to Los Angeles, Stansbury said.

Then a “stupid” crime interrupted his friend’s life plans, Stansbury said.

“You’re going to shoot people for $30?” he said. “Is it really worth spending the rest of your life in prison?”

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