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TRU Colors CEO Issues Statement About Fatal Shooting

By Vicky Janowski, posted Jul 25, 2021
TRU Colors CEO George Taylor issued a statement Sunday evening about the double homicide over the weekend at his son's house that included a victim who was connected to the brewery.

A gunman came into the house of George Taylor III at about 5 a.m. Saturday, George Taylor said in a lengthy post on TRU Colors' social media accounts.

George Taylor III, COO of TRU Colors, was not one of the shooting victims, according to law enforcement officials, who identified the two people who died as Koredreese Robert Tyson, 29, and Bri-yanna Emily Williams, 21, WECT reported. Another woman was taken to the hospital with injuries.

George Taylor in his statement described Tyson as a leader at TRU Colors.

The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office had not announced an arrest in the shooting as of Sunday evening.

TRU Colors is a for-profit brewery that hires Wilmington gang members and those involved in the gang community as a way to address street violence in the area. Earlier this year, Molson Coors Beverage Co. made an equity investment in the local brewery and was expected to be involved in the distribution of TRU Colors' line.

The planned launch of its first beer, a lager, was to take place this month but got pushed back because of issues with the company's brewing system at its headquarters on Greenfield Street.

George Taylor cited a post his son shared with the company Saturday night that said Tyson was living with George Taylor III "for the past few months as he tried to find a place that would accept someone with a felony background."

Here is George Taylor's statement in full.

"Yesterday I lost a friend to violence. It’s unfortunately not the first time I’ve lost someone I cared about to violence, and each subsequent loss has weighed heavier as I see so much potential in these young men and women lost forever.

Our whole team knows this, both affiliated and not. These incredible and selfless people are dedicated to driving peace on our city’s streets. And to that end, they have undoubtedly saved countless lives.

But I don’t know if we ever get to zero. You see, violence comes from exclusion and a lack of opportunity, and so until all of us can come together and prioritize grace and understanding over blame and divisiveness, it will never go to zero. For peace to happen, it takes the whole city uniting and committing to change.

I have never spoken publicly about the pain that comes with losing members of the TRU Colors family—both team members and friends. And by speaking out this time I want to be clear that the others lost before were every bit as tragic, and I will never forget any of them. I just have reached a point, and TRU Colors has reached a point, where I think others need to begin to understand.

Yesterday morning, around 5am while everyone was sleeping, a gunman entered my son’s house and killed Korry and Bri-yanna. And another young woman was seriously injured. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about Bri-yanna, as I didn’t have the privilege of knowing her. But I do know that she was a young woman with her whole life ahead of her. It is tragic that she and so many others have lost their lives like this, and it is something that should anger everyone in our city.

Unlike Bri-yanna, I did know Korry well. Very well. And while he had a past, he had since committed his life to peace and lifting his friends and community. Korry was a friend, a leader at TRU Colors, and a critical person in saving lives on our streets. I could try to describe Korry, but instead I’ll share this excerpt from a post my son made to the company last night…

     'I have no words for a moment like this. Having stared at this screen for hours now trying to keep it together, all I can think is that I wish more people had a chance to know the Korry I knew. Some people were aware, many were not, but Korry has lived at my home for the past few months as he tried to find a place that would accept someone with a felony background.

     I had the privilege of getting to know Korry better than most. Like many in this company, the life he lived was clearly filled with tragedy, pain, and loss beyond most people’s comprehension. I saw the ups and the downs, the stress and the pressure. Yet somehow, he could always put a smile on and bring energy to every conversation. While we did not always see eye to eye (the team knows how often we fought), I always understood his position and genuinely appreciated his often-abrupt honesty.

     Anyone who was fortunate enough to be close with Korry knows how hard he has fought to keep it all together. Having personally seen the pressure he dealt with from friends, leaders, coworkers like myself, and other gangs, it was stressful just to be in his presence. With all of that and the history he battled, he still used his influence for good, even when his back was up against the wall.

     One of the last texts I received from him said “Wats the move…lets make some progress” followed up by “…me and U can sit around and put a few things together and I will put it in motion cause things r pretty chill rn we cant get comfortable"

     Korry’s death cannot and will not be in vain. We cannot let this tragedy rip all of our hard work apart. This is not to say that this evil should not be dealt with, but we cannot let it destroy the foundation that he worked so hard to help build.

     TRU Colors is my life, my single passion that I’ve been so fortunate to fall into, and something I am not willing to give up on. I hope everyone on this team, gang or not, agrees and works tirelessly through the weekend to show Korry’s friends, family, and brothers some support as they work through all of this. I know it is tense and uncomfortable, but genuine communication is what TRU Colors was built on and what we must stand on.'

I could not have said it better, and like my son, my family and the TRU Colors team are committed to moving forward—for ourselves, our communities, and our city.

I also want to share a little about TRU Colors. I hear so many misconceptions. I think this is probably our fault though, since we don’t speak much about what we do (core to our culture is action over words). We will strive to speak more often in the future.

TRU Colors is a fairly large brewery with a tightly integrated social mission to stop street violence and bring people together. To achieve this mission, we hire civilians, rival gang members, and others who have influence on the streets. Most of our employees are in a gang and remain in their gang, although this is not a requirement.

Our approach to stopping violence is based on our belief that violence is driven by economic issues and societal exclusion. Therefore, any viable solution must be inclusive and economically focused. To that end, we pay a livable wage (minimum is $37,500), provide company paid health insurance, and grant equity in the company through stock options.

This is the foundation of TRU Colors, a sustainable economic opportunity for those who have been excluded and now want to use their influence and stories to fight for peace and unity. The message in sharing their stories is, if rival gangs can unite to pursue a future that’s bigger and better, then couldn’t the rest of us drop the divisiveness and do the same?

Lastly, I hope you will show our team a little grace and reach out to gain understanding before drawing conclusions. Our team has not only taken on the difficult challenge of launching a large and complex business, but they are also on the frontlines every day fighting longstanding social problems like violence, divisiveness, and poverty. There is no playbook for this, and it is beyond difficult.

We will never forget Korry, or any of the others we have lost. Their dedication to the community and a brighter future will live on and further strengthen our commitment to fighting violence and uniting our city."

George Taylor
TRU Colors-CEO
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