Family members open up to give a more complete picture of murder victim Tracy Crews
Neal Crews stood outside a county courtroom, decked out in a black “I can’t breathe” shirt, black pants and a black beanie.
It has been more than six years since 23-year-old Tracy Crews was killed during an armed invasion at his Whittaker Avenue residence.
The authorities said they cracked the case, arresting William Brown, 30, and Nigel Joseph Dawson, 31. Both are on trial for the Sept. 12, 2008 murder, a harrowing tale of a best man’s betrayal that ended when Tracy Crews was shot in the neck and bled out in front of a city liquor store.
Neal Crews is still mourning the loss of his brother because every morning he cracks open the newspaper and has to relive the death. Every time he gets to the part about his brother being a convicted drug dealer, he cringes. He knows it’s true, but it robs his brother of his humanity.
“I just don’t want my brother being remembered as a drug dealer, street kid,” he said. “He was much more than that.”
Two of Tracy Crews’ brothers spoke with The Trentonian to provide a more flattering portrait of “Looch,” as he was affectionately known.
One of seven siblings, Tracy Crews was once a bright student and made the dean’s list at Mercer County Community College. He was a loving father and a talented rapper, known by the stage name “Logic,” whose lyrics were stripped of braggadocio and mirrored his life.
The gritty reality is that Tracy Crews’ life was taken from him before he had a chance to turn it around. He had just gotten married a month before he was killed shortly after tucking his then-2-year-old daughter into bed. Tracy Crews also had a son – Nasir – from a prior relationship who is now a teenager.
He was close with his brothers and was willing to risk his life for them. Once, he jumped into a man-made lake to try to save his younger brother, Bayshawn, from drowning.
Antwan Crews recalled happier times when he and Tracy freestyled together over beats while his other brothers listened.
“All of his [songs] were the realest s*** he ever wrote,” Neal Crews said. “He never told a lie.”
Neal Crews said his brother would have “given you the shirt off his back.” Antwan recalled that quite literally. One day, he was running late for school. He didn’t have a clean shirt so Tracy gave him a shirt he had just purchased and drove him to school.
Neal Crews remembered another time when he and his brother encountered a haggard man on a city street. They knew him as “Uncle Jeff.” His hair was in unkempt dreadlocks. Tracy Crews took the man to Renaissance barber shop, paid for his haircut, then bought him a three-piece suit and took him to lunch.
That description of Tracy Crews as an affable generous person took a backseat to his rap sheet, which includes a drug conviction. Assistant Prosecutor Al Garcia described Tracy Crews as someone who “sold drugs for a living and made a lot of money doing it.”
Neal Crews said he isn’t sure why his brother resorted to street hustling but pointed to Trenton’s bleak surroundings as a possible reason.
“We don’t got too many options,” he said.
The authorities believe Tracy Crews’ business eventually caught up to him. The assailants were there to rob Tracy Crews. Inside his home the authorities discovered a safe with $400 and other personal belongings. The twist, prosecutors said, is that Tracy Crews recognized the voice of one of assailants. They attended his wedding and posed for photos together.
Neal Crews said he never knew about his brother’s association with Brown or Dawson until the authorities arrested them nearly three years after his brother’s death.
Antwan Crews still remembers the day his brother was killed. Neal Crews was incarcerated on a gun charge at the time. Antwan Crews was 18. He sat in the house in silence and then drove himself to the murder scene, hoping it was a bad dream.
“I sat there in dead silence for an hour,” he said. “I was in disbelief. All I could do was cry.”
The tears dried. But the pain doesn’t subside. When it becomes overwhelming, Tracy’s brothers cling to the message he relayed in each of his raps songs.
“God’s not gonna deliver you something you can’t handle,” Neal Crews said.
Neal Crews can handle a lot. But the thought of his brother’s legacy being that of a convicted drug dealer is not one of them.
“He was a man before everything else,” he said. “He was, and is, someone’s son.”