Zannie Worrell knew everyone in Beech Island. With each classic cut, the barber served up a laugh, smile and joke before parting ways with his customers.
On Sunday at Worrell’s hair parlor on Sand Bar Ferry Road, there was no joy.
Smiles turned to sadness and laughter turned to tears as more than 300 people said goodbye to Worrell, a 32-year-old soon-to-be father who was shot dead in an armed robbery Saturday afternoon.
“I still can’t believe this has happened,” Juanita Worrell said during a candlelight vigil held in her son’s memory. “I wish it was all a dream, but I know it is not. Right now, all I can do is put this tragedy in God’s hands and know he will take me through.”
Juanita Worrell raised her son as a single mother, teaching Zannie to be loving, respectful and helpful to every person he met. But around 3 p.m. Saturday, it was his intolerance to crime that cost him his life.
Eyewitnesses say two armed men – identified Sunday as 21-year-old Demarcus LiQuan Booker and 18-year-old Raphael A. Wooden – stormed his store in search of money, Worrell tried to fight them off and protect his customers, who were forced to lay on the ground while the robbers looted the shop of cash.
Vernon Wright, Worrell’s business partner, said it is believed that the robbery was planned, as one of the suspects came in shortly before the hold-up to ask how much a haircut costs and scout the business.
Deputies say witnesses who followed Booker and Wooden as they fled into Georgia in a white Honda relayed license plate information to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
Booker, of the 900 block of Barnes Street, and Wooden, of the 800 block of First Street, are in the Richmond County jail awaiting extradition.
Worrell died at Georgia Regents Medical Center 40 minutes after the shooting, according to Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton. He said an autopsy is planned today in Newberry, S.C.
Booker, a Laney High School alumnus and former scholarship recipient from the Augusta Boxing Club, was arrested in 2010 in Aiken County on charges of simple possession of marijuana, unlawful carrying of a weapon and having a stolen pistol, reports show.
After graduating from Silver Bluff High School in Aiken County, Worrell went to South Carolina State University. He eventually left to attend Southern Barber College and later Augusta Technical College to become a certified hair stylist.
Around 2004, he partnered with Wright to open Island Cuts Barber Shop.
“Everyone loved Zannie,” Wright said. “He had a strong positive energy that forced everyone around him to be in a better mood.”
Brittany Levaine, who he had dated since 2011, is expecting a girl in June. Worrell had picked out the name Zhane for his future daughter, she said.
“He always wanted kids,” she said. “He was so excited about being a dad. He always spoke of spoiling Zhane.”
For many, the death remains a shock, Levaine said.
“It’s going to be hard,” Levaine said of coping with the loss. “I’ve lost my best friend. The only thing I know to do now is take it day by day.”