By Linda Cicoira
Dean Reid, of Parksley, was “a comedian from the day he was born.” The baby of the family kept his parents and sisters entertained with jokes. He amused his friends, and eventually his own household. Reid always had a smile and a story to brighten the lives of those around him. That was the way he lived his life. He laughed his way through.
Tragically, the 53-year-old’s fun came to an end around 9 p.m. Saturday, July 3, when he attended a holiday/birthday party, in Deep Creek, and was shot and killed while trying to stop an argument.
34-year-old Fredrick Barnes, of Exmore, has been charged with second degree murder. Barnes, who is being held without bond in Accomack Jail, is also accused of the second-degree murder of his mother, 75-year-old Brenda Barnes, of Exmore, and attempted murder of his step-sister, who reportedly got away because the gun ran out of ammunition.
In a prepared statement, Accomack Sheriff Todd Wessells said, the two victims were found unresponsive when deputies arrived on the scene, a house on Deep Creek Road. The suspect was also charged with three counts of use of a firearm in a felony.
The Eastern Shore is in mourning over the incident. Besides being a hoot, Reid lived a life of public service. He was a past president, the chaplain, and a life-time member of the Melfa Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company.
He was “just a kind hearted person all the way around,” said his brother-in-law, Troy Justis, who also is a devoted member of that group. “He was never in a bad mood. He would walk away from stuff like that. He was trying to help out and that’s how he was killed … there were plenty of people who saw everything.”
Justice said Reid would stop what he was doing to help anyone. “He would bring a wrench or a hammer. You could stop him in the middle of the parking lot and he would pray for you, if you asked him. No one can really understand somebody as mild-mannered and as great a guy as he was” having this happen. “It’s just hard to believe. Just somebody you could count on.”
His sister, Brenda Jackson, of Melfa, said Reid had planned to go to Appomattox with her for the holiday weekend to visit friends. “He wasn’t supposed to be there,” she said. He canceled going on the trip, at the last minute, so he could fill in at the firehouse so the regular workers could have off on Sunday.
She marveled at her brother. “He followed in his grandfather’s footsteps serving the Lord as an ordained minister. His dad was a firefighter and his mother belonged to the ladies auxiliary That’s where he gets his love for the fire department,” Jackson said.
“Everything was a comedy,” she added. “If you were upset, get around Dean because Dean would cheer you up. He was my rock. Through a lot of different things, he was there for me and for a lot of people. He touched a lot of lives.” He did a wedding at the last minute once at the Onancock gazebo, she remembered. He was supposed officiate at his son’s wedding later this summer.
Jackson said at the age of around three, Reid taught himself to play the drums. At four, he was crowned “Little Mr. Brick” for Brick Township, N.J. The family moved to the Shore when he was in middle school. “He had an imagination,” Jackson said. “He would run around with a stick and a string.” One minute it was a sailboat and the next it was a fishing rod.
His son, Devyn Reid posted on Facebook, “Not only was a great firefighter and EMS lost, but a great father, husband, and just a full-time, all around man. You’ll never get me to agree there’s a better man. He taught me everything I know … I will shed tears, but not too many because, I know you aren’t dead, you’re just changing neighborhoods.”
Reid’s daughter, Shellsey, posted, “I do want him (Barnes) to live every day thinking about every single thing he did and has taken from us. Not only did he take my father, he took … a grandfather, a brother, and a friend to many. I will fight and get justice for my dad. We love you so much Daddy and we will make sure you rest in peace.”
“We lost a good person,” said Tana Allen, Reid’s sister-in-law. “I don’t know of anybody that that man did not love. He always had a smile for everybody.”
Reid was a medical miracle of sorts. When he was in kindergarten, after getting his hand stuck in a mixer in an accident that he later referred to as the Cupcake Incident, he was the first in his town to have nerve endings reattached. Jackson said he spent weeks in the hospital making friends and entertaining. He lost a tooth there and took in $20 in tooth fairy money and got his parents to buy him several yo-yos that he figured out how to use with his legs.
In his forties, he had a massive heart attack on the way to take his daughter to a doctor’s appointment across the bay. His wife and daughter did CPR until more help arrived. Jackson said he had just given a pep talk to a homeless man and bought him a cup of coffee and was singing in the car when he slumped over.
He lived to regain his memory, go through extensive physical therapy, get his driver’s license back, and most recently get hired to work part-time at his old job as a dispatcher for NASA Wallops Fire Company.
He also was known for wearing a coconut bra on stage at the Wachapreague Carnival, working at the Eastern Shore Regional Jail as a correctional officer, being a 9-1-1 dispatcher, working for the Accomack Sheriff’s Office, and delivering newspapers.
“I believe that people in the afterlife can see everything that happens in the world,” Reid once wrote to a friend after a family member died. “Especially in the lives of someone they touched in some way.”