Shonté Renee, the girlfriend of slain DJ Nando, opened up about his death in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Fernando William Barnes, 38, was fatally shot early Tuesday morning as he arrived home from work at Magic City strip club in downtown Atlanta.
Renee told the AJC she was upstairs in the couple’s Morrow, GA home when she heard “gunshots” outside. She explained that her boyfriend of 2 years always cautioned her to stay inside whenever she heard gunshots.
“I was in the house upstairs. I heard the gunshots. I was scared. Nando was the type to tell me, ‘Stay in the house if you hear gunshots.’ He wanted to protect me. I slowly went downstairs and peeked out the window.”
Renee saw Barnes laying motionless on the ground near his Jeep. She recalled how she held his head in her arms and frantically administered first aid as Barnes took his last breath.
“I said, ‘Baby, get up! Get up!’ He was not responding,” she said.
According to the AJC, the assailant ran from behind the house and shot Barnes in the right temple at close range as he exited his vehicle.
“He was caught completely off-guard,” Renee said. “I screamed and I called the ambulance.”
DJ Nando was known to walk around with a Louis Vuitton backpack full of cash. But police say none of his valuables were taken.
Now a couple of days later, Renee and DJ Nando’s friends are preparing to remember him at a memorial service held at Onyx strip club in Atlanta today at 7 p.m.
“Everybody thinks (strip clubs are) bad,” said Renee, who dances at Follies strip club in northeast Atlanta. I don’t want people to judge him off his job and what he did. He was a normal guy outside the strip club. He was family-oriented.”
DJ Nando belonged to a core group of strip club DJs called the Coalition DJs who helped launch the careers of local rap artists such as Cash Out, Rocko, Young Jeezy, Future, and 2 Chainz.
A Wall Street Journal article on Atlanta’s Coalition DJs detailed how the DJs typically accept cash or other favors in exchange for promising to play certain records in the club. Songs played on the radio are sometimes played first in strip clubs and nightclubs. This is called “breaking” or “working” a record.
“Before I spend money on the strippers I might give $1,000 to the DJ,” said John-Michael Hakim Gibson, a 23-year-old rapper who hired the Coalition strip-club DJs to work his new single, “Another Country.”
The Wall Street Journal points out:
Unless the DJs in such crews also host radio shows, these arrangements don’t appear to violate federal and state payola laws, which prohibit payments of cash or gifts to radio programmers in exchange for airplay unless the transaction is disclosed to listeners.
Still, DJs have been assaulted or killed in Atlanta and other cities for not keeping their promises to play the records or break a new artist.
Renee told the AJC that Barnes, who worked at Onyx and Magic City, had just inked a deal to spin records at a third strip club, The Diamond Gentlemen’s Club on Northside Drive.
Renee and Barnes also created a clothing line called “Da Army” which features “women’s exotic wear along with warm-up suits and hoodies for men.” Examples of the clothing line can be seen on her Instagram page and Twitter page.
“He had a lot of stuff going on at the beginning of the new year,” said Renee. “He’s not the type of guy to have any beef with anybody.”
In addition to Friday night’s vigil at Onyx, a wake will be held from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday at Donald Trimble Mortuary, 1876 Second Ave., Decatur. Friends have set up a memorial fund at Wells Fargo to help Barnes’ mother with expenses with his funeral to be held in Virginia.
“We just want to pay for everything,” said Sabrena “Ramey” Swinger, a house mom at Onyx. “She’s allowing us to hold a memorial (in Atlanta). They have to do something there. We want to make it easier for her.”
Barnes is survived by an 11-year-old daughter.