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Nashville pastor advocates for mental health awareness after brother was allegedly killed by roommate

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Nashville pastor is pushing for changes to mental health policies after his brother was brutally murdered. Metro police say 53-year-old Howie Bryant’s roommate beat him to death.

Pastor N. Curtis Bryant explained it was a phone call he never could have prepared for. Early in the morning, a chaplain with the Metro Nashville Police Department called with news about his brother.

“Well, I got a 3, 3:30 am phone call, and you know when you hear that phone at that time of the morning, it’s never good,” remembered Pastor Byrant, “He told me that my brother had been beaten to death.”

On Tuesday, Metro police arrested 55-year-old James Cairy on a criminal homicide warrant issued following to death of Howie. The incident happened inside his Neill Avenue Apartment early Monday morning. Witnesses reported hearing a verbal and physical altercation between the two around 4 in the morning. The Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Howie’s death a homicide by blunt force trauma.

“He {Cairy} told the owner of the house that he had just beaten him unmercilessly, and he was let unconscious, didn’t get any immediate care, and consequently he died from those injuries,” Pastor Bryant said.

Pastor Bryant explained his brother had been living in a mental health housing facility for the past 20 years. The goal was to let Howie live on his own and live life independently.

“It saddens me because housing like this for people with mental health challenges, you want to provide safe, decent, and affordable units. Safe and decent we believed, but consequently, my brother died in that unit,” Pastor Bryant explained.

However, Howie was much more than his illness.

“My brother was lovable, he was kind, he was gentle, he was generous, he was the young man in East Nashville who would come in and ask someone if he could sweep your parking lot. He was that kind of individual, but he had bouts with depression, bouts with anxiety.”

Now, Pastor Bryant has created a mission with meaning, wanting to bring change to mental health housing units.

“I think we have to pay attention to the red flags, the alerts, that it could be that persons are not compatible in a particular unit. My brother and his particular roommate at times were, it appears to be the best of friends and then there were times where they just clashed,” explained Pastor Bryant.

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Pastor Bryant is now advocating for safe, decent and monitored affordable housing for people just like Howie. He created the “Howie Bryant Memorial Fund” to go towards housing for mental health and developmental disabilities. For those wanting to contribute to the Memorial Fund, money can be dropped off at the 5th Third Bank.

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