NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The family of Billy Ray Plunk, 29, gathered to say good bye Thursday while calling for people who know who killed him to come forward.
Plunk was with his brother early Sunday morning when two men attempted to rob the men in the parking lot of the Iroquis Apartments in Bellevue.
According to Metro police, Plunk complied when the men demanded money, but one of them shot him multiple times. He died on the scene. His brother was not injured.
Plunk’s visitation and funeral were in Dickson on Thursday. Dozens of mourners gathered and embraced as his family still tries to cope with his murder.
The 29-year-old’s grandfather told News 2 he was a strong young man, accomplished wrestler, and beloved by many.
“I would say he was very muscular and a very powerful young man,” Plunk’s grandfather Wayne Plunk said outside of his visitation. “When he hugged you he really gave you a hug.”
He continued, “That is what I will miss the most about him, his hugs, his smile and his personality.”
Authorities were also able to develop two suspects based on surveillance video from a stolen beer incident a few hours before the murder.
Metro police also recovered the stolen SUV in the area of 41st and Indiana avenues. A forensic team has processed the vehicle for evidence.
The two men seen in the surveillance video match the description of the men Plunk’s brother described.
His brother is struggling to cope with his brother’s murder and has taken to social media to ask for justice.
“He is not doing good,” his grandfather said. “He is not doing good at all. They tried to kill him, too.”
News 2’s Neil Orne is a friend of the Plunk family. He wrote a letter to the family to be read at the funeral, because he was unable to attend in person. He wrote:
In my heart I am here with you today, thinking about my friend Billy Ray. It pains me not to be there to honor this young man who I so came to appreciate, and was so honored to call a friend. I think about the pain and loss in this room and it hurts, we were lucky to have him and we knew it. To put myself in the shoes of those here so close to him is just unimaginable at this moment. I find myself asking this week why, at 29, he was taken from us? Trying to lean heavily on my faith to not question things for which there are no answers, only more questions. I still ask.
It is no mystery why Billy Ray was so appreciated. Polite, kind, willing, helpful, fun, ambitious, loyal, respectful… these are a few of the words that come to mind when thinking about all those hours in the shop. Ray, back me up on this, those cars would come in like they’d come through a war and Billy Ray would give me that look, everyone here knows that look. Before I could turn around he’d disappear. He was in that car and was on it. No questions asked, there was a job to be done and he would just do it. How fun to work with a kid half your age that worked twice as hard. Billy Ray made us all look good in the shop. At the end of the day he’d stand by that bay door at the warehouse, behind him row after row of sparkling clean cars and he’d always ask “need me to do anything else?” Just amazing. I will never forget those moments.
But now my thoughts are with Ray because thinking about working on those cars with Ray taught me the most about a father and son relationship. For me it was like watching a surgeon with an equally capable assistant. “Half Day Ray”… Yes Ray I had to say that… would have an engine, a transmission, an axle torn apart. Billy Ray always just a couple steps away ready to assist. The kid was so good he usually had what dad was going to ask for next, in his hand, ready to go, before dad even asked. These things maybe Ray didn’t see cause he was under the patient, but I saw them, and just appreciated how engaged this father and son were, and how in tune this father and son were with each other. I learned much from those two, and it made me think wonderful thoughts about how I was with my dad so many years ago.
Ray, you did what every great dad does, you instilled in that young man everything you knew and then gave him the tools to be even better. Perhaps the best part is, I believe Billy Ray knew that, and appreciated that. We all saw that in Billy Ray.
I write this in tears right now because the realization that our paths will not cross on this earth slowly sinks in, and it just hurts. From afar I rooted for Billy and in my heart knew he was going to do good. A man proud of the job he did, and a father that wanted only better for his child, just like his dad. But there is evil in this world and it has proved that even the best can fall and leave the rest of us behind to pick up the pieces, and try make sense of this loss. Billy Ray, I will not let this evil win, I will not be consumed with the hate that is so easy to find at this moment, I will not let your memory and time on this earth be without purpose or wasted on vengeance. Billy Ray, I will be a better dad to my daughters, a better person to my peers and I will do it with the politeness, kindness, ambitiousness, loyalty, and respect you so easily showed me, and all of us here today.
I’d say rest in peace Billy Ray, but my guess is heaven needed someone up there to get something done, and that is just what you are doing so when we hopefully join you, it is an even better place. You standing there with that grin, ready to go. We’ll just have to miss that until we see you again and we will.
Plunk is survived by a young son, his parents and three brothers.
Anyone with information about the two men should call Nashville Crime Stoppers at 615-74-CRIME.