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Homicide victim enjoyed life

by Joe Gamm | November 30, 2022 at 4:04 a.m. | Updated November 30, 2022 at 8:14 a.m.
Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: One note written in red marker on the window at the entrance to J.Pfenny's Grill and Pub reads "Love you always and forever son, we miss you more than you know Love Mom & Dad 11/28," followed by a heartbreaking message from their granddaughter, Adalyn, that simply states "I love you Daddy," are just two of dozens of tributes from family and friends to Skylar Smock as the makeshift memorial to him grows in the south entryway to J.Pfenny's on East High Street. Smock was a bartender on duty when he tried break up an altercation during which he was shot and killed early Saturday morning, Nov. 26, 2022.

A larger-than-life, fun-loving man, Skylar Smock died at a job he cherished.

Smock was a great guy, his girlfriend, Lauren Williams told the News Tribune on Tuesday.

"He loved the 49ers. He loved wrestling. He loved his daughter, Adalyn," Williams said. "He was loved by everybody and was a big prankster."

Smock died in a double-homicide early Saturday morning.

Close friend Dale Vaughan said Smock loved working at restaurants and bars and lived in an apartment above JPfenny's, the bar where he sometimes worked.

Vaughan said Smock did whatever the bar owners needed him to do. Part of his job was being a bouncer, Vaughan said.

"It's a sad deal. Who would ever have thought that somebody would bring a gun?" Vaughan said.

Police reports stated a fight broke out between 35-year-old Damien L. Davis and Corey Thames early Saturday morning in the bar. Smock broke up the fight and was escorting Thames out when Davis began firing a handgun and killed the two other men, according to police reports.

Vaughan, a Realtor who owns a development company, would hire Smock periodically to help with projects.

Smock was a "young dude," Vaughan said. "I tried to get him out of that bar scene. I tried to get him to apply at Hitachi for steady income and a change in lifestyle."

But he was too gregarious and enjoyed the scene. He loved being around bars and food and people, Williams said. Smock was a "food guy," she continued.

"The first time I met him, I was at JPfenny's. I was fixing somebody's phone," Vaughan said. "He gave me a free cheeseburger. That's how I met him. He reminded me of my brother. A kind caring guy who would do anything for you."

Williams vows to keep Smock's memory going. She's created a Go Fund Me page intended to help pay funeral costs and to provide some support for his daughter. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had received pledges of $5,750 toward its $10,000 goal.

Williams said she'll pick up the pieces and try to move forward. Smock wouldn't want anyone to be sad over him, she continued. He'd want people to enjoy their lives.

That will be a challenge, she said.

"The worst part of my day is waking up and him not being there," Williams said. "When you sleep with someone every night and he's not there, it's really hard. The last thing he said to me was 'I'll see you after work.'"

Davis faces charges of first-degree murder, criminal action, unlawful use of weapons and unlawful possession of a firearm. He has a fairly long criminal past.

In 2007, Davis received a one-year jail sentence for false imprisonment.

In 2008, he was convicted of second-degree domestic assault and sentenced to three years in prison.

He was later convicted of driving without a license; for which he was fined; first-degree trespassing, for which he received a 30-day jail sentence; and driving while revoked and resisting arrest, eight days in jail.

In 2010, he was convicted of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, for which he received a five-year-prison sentence. Then-Cole County Presiding Judge Pat Joyce handed down the sentence as part of a plea agreement. Davis, who was 23 at the time, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

CORRECTION: This article was edited at 8:14 a.m. Nov. 30, 2022, to correct the spelling of Skylar Smock's daughter's name.

photo Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: Tributes to Skylar Smock poured in following his death, as the makeshift memorial to him grew in the south entryway to J.Pfenny's Grill and Pub, where Smock was an employee. He was shot and killed early Saturday morning, Nov. 26, 2022, while trying to break up an altercation between two patrons.

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