‘He was such a peaceful person:’ friend speaks out about West Michigan man beaten to death

Posted at 6:34 PM, Aug 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-13 19:44:03-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. —  Bryan Higgins, who was beaten to death while living in San Francisco, is being remembered as a person who lit up the world.

At 6:33 p.m., Bryan Higgins, 31, was removed from life support at San Francisco General Hospital. Higgins was found lying unconscious early Sunday morning in the city’s Duboce Triangle neighborhood.

Initially, police didn’t know who he was because he wasn’t carrying an ID. They posted a picture of Higgins from his hospital bed listing him as a John Doe. That’s when they said someone came forward and said he’s originally from Comstock, Mich.

Jennifer Maubrey, who lives in Kalamazoo, said she met Higgins, also known as “Feather,” more than a decade ago. She said he shined a light upon everyone he met.

“That light was dimmed and is going out based on things that he had no belief in and would never have done,” Maubrey said.

Gentle, kind and caring are all words Maubrey uses to describe Higgins.

"To have all of that light taken away in such a violent manner for a person that I know wasn't a violent person," Maubrey said, "there's no way this was a fight or altercation or that he would've gone to physical blows with another person."

People are left to wonder if Higgin's death is the result of a hate crime. Higgins was openly gay, and his friends said he was part of the "Radical Faeries," a group of gay men looking for a spiritual dimension to their sexuality, according to their web site.

Maubery said it's been more than a year since she's seen Higgins. Now, she's left with one regret. Higgins, according to friends, got married in California in July. Maubrey wasn't able to attend. "To just feel like I didn't take advantage of that opportunity is hard to make peace with, " Maubrey said. "And yet, he would want me to say, 'Just don't do it again, know time is precious."

Now Maubrey is doing what she can to remember his friend.  She has created a memorial covered in feathers for Higgins on her front porch.

"All you remember is this person who came in and touched your life with this amazing light that you’re not going to find anywhere else in the world," Maubrey said.

In a tragedy brought on by violence, Maubrey said it's the light carried by Higgins that she hopes will spread throughout the world.

"It's going to be impossible to replicate but we can at least try in his honor to carry that on for other people," Maubrey said. "The kind of ugliness that he was shown in his last moments is something that was never reflected in him as a person and that’s what makes it so hard to come to terms with."

(Friends gather in Bronson Park to mark moment Higgins is removed from life support)