LAS VEGAS - A display honors the life of Sgt. Brett Lawrence, Jr., who mysteriously died in Las Vegas May 15. The memorial includes medals from the military, pictures of his service to his country and mementos from his days playing football for Coronado High School.
Craig Kim was one of many family friends to pay their respects at the family home. "Everyone likes him. He's just respectful and loving and courageous," Kim said.
Outside the home, crowds stood in vigil. It was a moving moment when Sgt. Lawrence's family emerged from inside. An American flag flew. Candles were lit in memory of this veteran. The vigil was a surprise to Sgt. Lawrence's father, Brett Lawrence, Sr. The two had a special bond.
Family friend Robert Parlanti, Jr. shows a picture of Lawrence and his father at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. "He has a tear coming down off his eye in the picture where his father was there to greet him," Parlanti said. "He was walking out with his platoon."
The shocking death of Sgt. Lawrence has been emotional for everyone who knew and admired him. "We all told him, ‘There's a war going on. Are you crazy? You know where you'll end up going?' He wanted to go. He felt it was his obligation, and he went," Kim said. "A lot of people don't jump out there and say I'm going to fight for my country in the middle of the war," Parlanti said.
Wounded by an Al-Qaeda blast, Sgt. Lawrence earned the Purple Heart. But, he also returned with other scars. "I know some of the stories which he has said," Parlanti said. "They're things I would never want to put myself or any of my family through." "You have no idea the things he's seen and done," Kim said. "He went in as a boy (and) came back as a man."
It's still unclear what may have caused the death of Sgt. Lawrence. Toxicology results are pending from the Clark County Coroner.
Meanwhile, visitation will take place Thursday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. His funeral is Friday at 11 a.m. at Palm Mortuary.