Friends, family members, and fans are mourning the death of British MMA fighter Jahreau Shepherd, who was fatally stabbed on Saturday, July 11, at his 30th birthday party at an apartment complex in Kennington, South London.
He died at the scene after paramedics arrived and tried to stop the bleeding, according to The Sun. Shepherd’s mother was also at the party, and eyewitnesses said she screamed, “Please keep going, please save my baby,” as paramedics rendered what proved to be futile aid to the fighter.
People returned to the scene Monday to mourn his death and left flowers, candles, and photos of him holding two championship belts.
Shepherd’s cousin, Tanisha Shepherd, said the MMA member was eager to return to the gym after the COVID-19 lockdown and was setting up another fight.
“I was at the barbecue early in the evening but have two small children so had to go,” she told the Evening Standard. “Jahreau was amazing. He helped everyone, he would do anything for anyone. He lived and breathed fighting. He had everything to live for. He helped keep the young people on the straight and narrow and was a role model.”
There haven’t been any arrests for the killing. Shortly after Shepherd’s stabbing, a 26-year-old man checked himself into a hospital with non-life-threatening stab wounds, believed to be received at the party.
London’s Metropolitan Police have now launched an investigation and are asking witnesses to come forward to reveal what they know.
“A man has lost his life and a family has been left suffering unimaginable grief because of the callous use of a knife to inflict fatal injuries,” said Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams in a statement. “I will do all I can to get justice for this family, and, along with colleagues from my homicide teams, I will use every available tactic to find whoever is responsible for this terrible attack.”
Nicknamed “The Nightmare,” Shepherd had a professional MMA record of 6-2 with five knockouts while winning CEA and UCMMA titles in his last two fights.
He posted an Instagram message on July 1 about turning 30 and wrote, “Turning 30 ain’t that bad i still het to knock people out 🤣🤣🤣🤣 I didnt think i would be alive to see age 30 but im here.”
A spokesman for Contenders, Shepherd’s promoters, paid tribute to him on Instagram and said his stellar fighting skills were just as impressive as his winning personality.
“Jay, our welterweight champion, was hugely talented and great fun to be around, a big personality with a huge smile and infectious laugh,” read the message, posted July 12. “Inside the cage, he was destined for the top – a champion in three different organisations with heavy hands and a warrior heart.”