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

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

Pastor N. Curtis Bryant explained that this was a phone call he could never have prepared for. Early in the morning, a chaplain from the Metro Nashville Police Department called to report on his brother.

“Well, I got a phone call at 3:30 in the morning, and you know when you hear that phone at that time in the morning, it’s never good,” Pastor Byrant recalls, “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 in connection with Howie’s death. The incident happened inside his Neill Avenue apartment early Monday morning. Witnesses reported hearing a verbal and physical altercation between the two around 4 a.m. The medical examiner’s office ruled Howie’s death was a blunt trauma homicide.

“He {Cairy} told the owner of the house that he had just beaten him mercilessly, and he was left unconscious, received no immediate treatment, and consequently died of these injuries,” said said Pastor Bryant.

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

“It saddens me because with housing like this for people with mental health issues, you want to provide safe, decent and affordable housing. We believed safe and decent, but as a result, my brother died in that unit,” Pastor Bryant explained.

However, Howie was more than his illness.

“My brother was lovely, he was kind, he was sweet, he was generous, it was the young guy from East Nashville who would come in and ask someone if they could sweep your parking lot. It was that kind of person, but he had bouts of depression, bouts of anxiety.

Now Pastor Bryant has created a meaningful mission for himself, wanting to bring change to mental health housing units.

“I think we have to watch out for red flags, alerts, that people might not be compatible in a particular unit. My brother and his particular roommate were sometimes, he seems to be best friends, and then there were times when they just clashed,” Pastor Bryant explained.

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

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