He handed out $20 bills to customers at a Florida Waffle House. That kindness proved fatal.

Ezekiel Hicks’ booking photo on April 7, 2019.
Ezekiel Hicks’ booking photo on April 7, 2019. Alachua County Jail

Craig Artez Brewer decided to pay for strangers’ meals at a Gainesville Waffle House. He came with $20 bills and smiles and handed out some money to several customers at the popular eatery.

That decision ended his life on Sunday, according to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

According to deputies, Brewer, 41, got into an argument with Ezekiel Luke Hicks, 25, inside the Waffle House on West Newberry Road, not far from the University of Florida. Alachua deputies believe the fight started when a woman got angry that Brewer’s Good Samaritan generosity didn’t extend to her, the Gainesville Sun reported.

Hicks, officers said, then started to argue with Brewer and the confrontation turned physical inside the restaurant. A crowd began to gather inside and outside of the Waffle House.

The first call to 911 came in from a woman who told a dispatcher “a fight is ready to erupt at Waffle House as 30 to 40 people in here are getting out of control arguing and fighting. Half are inside, some are outside,” the caller said. The dispatcher asked if anyone appeared drunk. “They might have been drinking, it’s a bar rush,” the woman responded.

It was around 3 in the morning.

Alachua deputies arrived as a second call came in to 911 from a man reporting the altercation took a tragic turn.

“Someone got shot,” the man told the 911 dispatcher. “Dude got shot in the head. A big dude in a green shirt shot some dude in the head and ran away.” He told the dispatcher officers were arriving.

According to deputies, Hicks had left the restaurant and, while outside, armed himself with a handgun, which was recovered on the scene.

“Despite the efforts of at least one bystander, the suspect went back inside, approached the victim, and a physical fight started. As the fight continued, the suspect took the handgun from his pants and shot Brewer in the head,” Alachua deputies said.

Brewer died on the scene.

The fight and the shooting were captured on surveillance video, deputies said. The footage “is now considered evidence in the murder case.”

Hicks was charged with premeditated first-degree murder and carrying a concealed, unlicensed firearm. He is being held without bail at Alachua County Jail.

The Alachua sheriff’s department asks that any witnesses with additional information call the Criminal Investigations Division at 352-367-4170.

After the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office posted the report to its Facebook page Sunday morning, nearly 800 people shared the post and about 600 people had commented.

A common refrain: “At some point in life we must learn to walk away.”

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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