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Family remembers murder victim, blames TRU Colors CEO for her death

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 3:29 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The family of Bri-yanna Williams, one of two people killed over the weekend in a home owned by an executive of TRU Colors Brewery, blames the company owner for her death. While TRU Colors CEO George Taylor may not have pulled the trigger, they say he set the stage for a situation that claimed Bri-yanna’s life.

“I feel that his program, what he said was supposed to help [actually] hurt,” Bri-yanna’s mother, Adrian Dixon told WECT of the brewery, which was founded on the concept of bringing active, rival gang members together to work under the same roof with the mission of reducing gang violence. Dixon said on the contrary, she believes gang violence in Wilmington has increased since TRU Colors started interfering with an already volatile dynamic between rival gangs.

At the time of her death, Bri-yanna was at the home of George Taylor III, the chief operating officer for TRU Colors, visiting a friend who was dating a brewery employee. But Bri-yanna’s family was very clear Bri-yanna had nothing to do with the brewery. They don’t support it, and feel the business concept is misguided.

“You take a lot of young kids from different areas of town, different gangs... they don’t like each other. And put them all in one building, and you’re paying them and you want them to stay in the gang while working. You can’t live two lives like that. One has to go,” Bri-yanna’s older brother, Malquan Dixon said of their unusual business plan.

“When [TRU Colors] first got here and I heard the concept, I was just like ‘Oh, OK?’ I’m thinking what this is is like a rich person showing, ‘Look, I got the fancy cars,’ and of course any young adult is going to look at that. You are kind of luring them in and then everybody’s like, ‘Oh, well look what he did he got all these gang members to work together,’” Bri-yanna’s father Elton Williams added.

George Taylor was a successful entrepreneur before starting TRU Colors Brewery in 2017. They’ve yet to start selling beer, but they have received extensive, national publicity and continue to take on investors, including Molson Coors. Taylor has declined interview requests since the shooting at his son’s house on Saturday night, but did write an open letter to the community on Sunday, expressing his grief over the loss of his employee and friend Koredreese Tyson, the other person killed that night.

Bri-yanna’s family was also offended by that letter, which barely mentioned their daughter. They believe that were it not for TRU Colors, Bri-yanna would still be alive.

“You are doing nothing but harming my community,” Adrian said of Taylor. “Somewhere that you don’t live. You are harming my community, and I have grandchildren.... Peoples’ lives — innocent lives — are being lost.”

WECT repeatedly tried to reach out to Taylor for comment after the deadly shooting but was unsuccessful. On Wednesday, a public relations firm out of Texas emailed WECT a statement that was attributed to Taylor.

“As I reflected Sunday, unfortunately, I did not have the privilege of knowing Bri-yanna. But I do know that she was a young woman with her whole life ahead of her. It is tragic that she and so many others have lost their lives like this, and it is something that should anger everyone in our city. I can’t imagine the pain that Bri-yanna’s family and friends are feeling – I have reached out to Bri-yanna’s mother and plan to do anything I can to support them as they navigate the horrific path that they now face.”

When Adrian was asked if she thought Taylor’s intentions were good, even if the results of his experiment with the brewery remained unclear, she wasn’t convinced about that, either.

“I think he’s in it for recognition, for money,” Adrian said. “I think he is using those young men to be truthful.”

The youngest of three children in their tight knit family, they say Bri-yanna was a beautiful, happy person who was quick to help others.

“It’s just a pain in your gut that I know I will never get over,” Adrian said of her daughter’s senseless death.

The Dixon-Williams family has planned a wake this Sunday at 5:30 at Shaw funeral home, and Bri-yanna’s funeral service is at 1 p.m. Monday at Union Baptist Church.

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