Country star Josh Turner sings at Brooklyn Cracker Barrel in memory of family killed

Crowd views mini-concert as a step toward healing

BROOKLYN, Ohio - Under an early June noontime sky that was dappled with fluffy white clouds, music recording star Josh Turner brought his voice and his guitar. He brought them to offer as a thanksgiving for people who supported the family slain at the Cracker Barrel in Brooklyn.

"I'm not here to sell records; I'm not here for me," said Turner. "I'm here for the community of Brooklyn and I'm here for this story."

On Monday, Turner's words were spoken from the front porch of the Cracker Barrel on Tiedeman Road that had seen so much violence in April.  The crowd that had gathered for the mini-concert and to meet the country music star shouted its approval. Turner strummed his guitar while telling the crowd in the restaurant parking lot he did not have his usual complement of other musicians with him.

No matter, he began to sing and the smiles widened on the faces of several hundred people who had gathered. 

"There's been some sadness, but the community has just reached out to us and this is our way of reaching out and saying ‘Thank you,'" said Heather MacDonald, a spokeswoman for the Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants.

The cheers grew even louder as Turner announced the money Cracker Barrel had paid him to perform would be donated to Strongsville Schools in memory of Kayla and Kerri Allen, the two young daughters killed by their father as the family had gathered for a meal.

Later, Turner said he felt a "sense of strength and hope and peace" in the community. Many fans of his and others who wanted to show support in memory of the Allen girls and their mother. 

"I came here for the cause of Cracker Barrel," said a restaurant employee who was assigned to another Northeast Ohio restaurant. "I felt I needed to support the name."

Turner sang a few songs and then stepped inside the restaurant, where he posed for photographs and shook hands with those who came to the mini-concert.

Cracker Barrel officials announced the Brooklyn restaurant would donate all of its proceeds from its intake Monday, with the exception of taxes and gratuities, to Strongsville Schools in memory of the Allen girls.

Turner brought his voice and his guitar. But mostly, he brought his heart and his hope for peace.

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