MIAMI – When a self-published author was gunned down in Miami's Little Haiti Sunday, so were his dreams of becoming a documentary filmmaker.
Reginald Killings was working on turning his book into a film. He wanted to chronicle his experience in a style similar to his favorite movie "City of God," a film about gang war turfs in the poverty-stricken "favelas" of Rio de Janeiro.
The cover of his biographical e-book "I Am Drama City" had a picture of him taken at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Five years ago, he survived a shooting that left scars on his left arm, across his head and AK-47 bullet fragments in his skull.
"I was almost murdered," Killings said on a YouTube video. He added that two days before the shooting that sent him to Ryder Trauma Center, his little cousin was shot dead.
Killings was a veteran of gang life on the 5600th block near Fifth Avenue, also known as Murder Avenue. He decided to write the book, after converting to Islam.
Killings was part of a new wave of retired gang members who are keeping up with the situation in the Gaza strip and are regulars at the Masjid Al-Ansar mosque, 5245 NW 7th Ave., in Miami's Liberty City and the Islamic Center of Greater Miami-Masjid, 4305 NW 183rd St., in Miami Gardens.
But before books about Islam were in his life, drive-by shootings with AK-47s, Tec-9s, 9 mm handguns and .45-caliber pistols were part of growing up near Miami Edison High School. The neighborhood's brutal gang friction -- between African-Americans, west of Second Avenue and Haitian-Americans, east of Second Avenue -- was unavoidable.
Killings, also known as "Foola," had dozens of tattoos. They told a dark story. He had the numbers "5600" tattooed over his right eye brow. He often taunted proudly that it was his block and like a prophetic nightmare said that was where he was from and that was where he was going to die.
There were several tears tattooed under both eyes to honor loved ones. On his abdomen, he had at least six tombstones, including one with his grandmother's name. On his back, he had the acronym for "Forever Fred," in honor of a brother who died Aug. 19, 2013. On eight of his fingers, he had the words "Just Kill." And on his right forearm and his back, he had tattoos that read "Drama City" and a building skyline with a bank and a gun range.
"I am Drama City until my casket drop," he wrote on Facebook Nov. 12.
The 30-year-old died Sunday. He was shot multiple times in front of his home, 5644 NW Fourth Ave. After he was shot, Killings started to run for cover, but this time he wasn't lucky. He collapsed at the door and died.
His close links to the Miami gang life may have caught up to him.
Records show he was arrested many times but was never convicted. In 2003, he was charged with burglary. In 2006, he was arrested for premeditated murder with a firearm and later for resisting arrest, gambling, and possession of a shopping cart. And in 2008, he was arrested for armed robbery and aggravated assault.
After an attempt on his life in 2009, he said he decided to try to leave his reckless days behind, he said on YouTube. He encouraged others to do the same. In September, he posted on Facebook that he had taken a revolver from his "silly" cousin.
Last year, he announced proudly that he had registered for a short program by the New York Film Academy to learn how to write scripts. The father also enjoyed reading to his children, watched Peace TV regularly to learn about Islam and taught his kids how to play chess, his Facebook posts showed.
But he couldn't let go of a grudge. He used social media to flaunt his alliances. He continued to wear the black and red garments that identify "Bloods" gang members and was often throwing up hand gang signs on pictures. On Instagram, he liked to share selfies with T-shirts that said "Reggie Zoe is not a Zoe," referring to the Haitian-American gang "Zoe Pound," which rivals the "Bloods."
Killings shared publicly on Instagram that he was taking Crestor medication to reduce his risk of a heart attack due to high cholesterol and had been getting checked for HIV regularly. But a friend said he knew for a while that those were not the maladies that were going to kill him.
"Love people while u have the chance, because with an blink of an eye sh-- changes," Dionna Killings said on Facebook, as she mourned the death of another brother.
The Sunday homicide remained under investigation. Detectives were asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-6160.