19-year-old suspect is identified

A day after David Reader, the principal cellist for the Augusta Symphony, was found fatally shot in an east Augusta neighborhood, his father recalled his son's newfound confidence in his music -- something that had eluded him for years.

"Through continued encouragement of mentors that saw his talent and the beauty of his music, he persevered," said Dr. Whitney Reader in a phone interview Monday from Kansas. "He was just beginning to enjoy the success that he had worked so long to prepare for."

Richmond County authorities spent Monday searching for two men they think shot Mr. Reader, 26, in the chest in an apparent drug deal gone wrong.

Late Monday night they identified one of the suspects as Anthony Gerome Joe Jr., 19.

He is wanted on charges of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and is considered armed and dangerous

Police said they linked Mr. Joe to the death after a day of questioning residents of the neighborhoods near East Augusta Commons on East Boundary, where the musician was found early Sunday shot to death in his car.

A native of Wichita, Kan., Mr. Reader was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati-College-Conservatory of Music and Georgia State University, where he received bachelor's and master's degrees in cello performance, respectively.

As a 5-year-old, he joined seven musically talented siblings, learning to play the piano and violin, Dr. Reader said.

But he switched to the cello as a teenager.

The cello was more than an instrument to Mr. Reader, his father said, it was a way for the normally subdued young man to communicate with the world.

"David used music to say things the way other people use words," Dr. Reader said. "He was one of those rare people who could bring you to tears when you heard him play."

Sandra Self, the executive director of the Augusta Symphony, called Mr. Reader's death a "huge loss" and said she hadn't noticed anything unusual about Mr. Reader in the days before his death.

"Everything was fine," Ms. Self said. "He was a fun cellist and the leader of the section. He was also very excited about this coming year, about the conductor search. He loved music and loved doing what he was doing."

A reward is being offered for information leading to the arrests of those responsible for Mr. Reader's death. Anyone with information can call the sheriff's office at (706) 821-1080.

Staff Writer Steven Uhles contributed to this article.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.