McKinley statistician victim of fatal shooting

Family and friends are grieving the loss of a McKinley High School football statistician and well-known sports fan who was shot Monday night in a killing the authorities described as a random act of violence.

Baton Rouge police were at a loss Thursday to explain the death of Shelby Holmes, 38, who had been in intensive care after being shot several times in the 1700 block of Braddock Street.

Holmes’ mother, Dorothy Chissell, said her son had watched “Monday Night Football” at work before walking home, a familiar route he had taken countless times despite her offers to pick him up.

“I’ll just leave it in the hands of the Lord,” Chissell said several hours after police announced Holmes had succumbed to his injuries.

“Only Shelby, whoever it was and the Lord know who did it, and I wish they would come forward.”

Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a police spokesman, said detectives have not determined a motive in the shooting, which happened about 10:30 p.m.

Holmes still had his personal items when he was rushed to the hospital, McKneely said, suggesting he had not been the target of a robbery.

“He was minding his own business,” McKneely said. “We don’t think he was doing anything outside of the ordinary.”

The investigation has been slowed by a lack of witnesses.

“We don’t have any leads on it,” McKneely added, urging anyone with information about the shooting to come forward.

Friends were baffled by the slaying, saying Holmes was never one to quarrel with others. “We never knew Shelby to have any kind of problem with anybody,” said Carl Dunn, a close friend.

“If you would have made him upset, you would never know,” added Holmes’ mother. “He still had that big smile.”

Holmes’ death came as a painful shock to friends and colleagues, who recalled him as a fiercely loyal fan of the New Orleans Saints and LSU Tigers.

“He traveled to great lengths to follow the Tigers, no matter the sport,” LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette said, who worked with Holmes for a time. “It’s so sad that something so bad could happen to someone whose life was just full of good.”

Jerry Padgett, the LSU baseball fanatic known as “Birdman,” said Holmes “has been a fan for as long as I can remember.”

“In the LSU community, he was known just as much as anybody,” said Padgett, who expressed frustration at the shooting.

Shelby Howard Holmes was born in New Orleans in 1975 and moved to Baton Rouge at the age of 10.

He graduated from McKinley High School in 1993, where he was recognized as salutatorian before studying at LSU.

Holmes remained a fixture at McKinley long after graduation, volunteering his time as a statistician and announcer.

The school’s principal, Armond D. Brown, said Holmes had an encyclopedic recall of the school’s football program and could recite obscure statistics.

“It’s really hard to believe,” said Brown, who was deeply troubled by the shooting, one of six slayings over the span of a week in East Baton Rouge Parish. “My question is this, and I’m serious: When are we going to stop? It seems like people are just shooting people for the fun of it.”

McKinley coach Robert Signater said the school community had been shaken.

“Everybody was just amazed that it could happen to him,” Signater said, “because he would have given the shirt off his back to anyone.”

When Holmes wasn’t cheering on his beloved Saints or Tigers, he could be found at the River Center, where he worked as the assistant box office manager.

“He was a real class act,” said Todd Mitchell, the general manager. “You really couldn’t have met a nicer guy than Shelby.”

Chissell said the outpouring of sympathy and support she’s received from her son’s many friends this week has touched her. Funeral arrangements are still pending, but Chissell said she’s been advised to expect a large crowd.

“It’s going to be a large place,” she said. “I’m looking for a flood of friends.”

Police asked anyone with information about the shooting to call (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.