After beloved barber, entrepreneur gunned down on west bank, family and friends seek answers

Alonzo Wiley was a charismatic, fun-loving giver who, relatives say, poured himself into his family, his friends and his business, a barber shop and salon called The Grooming Gallery. 

It's that generosity that has left those who knew Wiley, 35, puzzled by the news that he was shot and killed Dec. 5 at a Harvey hotel, possibly during a robbery.

"It was senseless," Wiley's niece, Azona Wiley, 27, said Thursday. "If someone needed something from him, he would have given it. Even if you robbed him, you didn't have to kill him."

Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office investigators arrested Raymond Lee, 36, of New Orleans, on Dec. 28, and booked him with second-degree murder in Alonzo Wiley's death.

Wiley's relatives and friends say they don't know Lee and aren't sure how or if he knew Wiley. Authorities have not divulged the evidence that allegedly links Lee to the killing. 

While the arrest is of some comfort, Azona Wiley said she and her uncle's friends are left with a big question mark. 

"Why did this happen?" she asked. 

Alonzo Wiley was born in Bridge City and raised mostly on the west bank. The youngest of five siblings, he was the baby of the family, his sister, Allegra Wiley, 45, said. 

The family's life was forever altered in 1997 when their mother, Helen Wiley, 37, was shot and killed by her husband, Stafford Robinson. Alonzo Wiley was about 11 at the time and bounced around after her death, living with aunts and other relatives, according to Allegra Wiley. 

Alonzo Wiley graduated from John Ehret High School in 1994 and joined the U.S. Navy. He served for about four years before leaving the military and working a series of jobs, including managing a fast food restaurant, Allegra Wiley said. 

But Alonzo Wiley recently became determined to start his own business and make his own way. He earned an associate's degree from Delgado Community College and began working as a barber, relatives and friends said.

He eventually opened The Grooming Gallery on Tulane Avenue in New Orleans. 

He closed that location after Hurricane Ida and concentrated his efforts on a second location that opened in October on Lapalco Boulevard near Gretna.

Grooming Gallery  photo.jpg

Alonzo Wiley stands outside of his shop, The Grooming Gallery.

Alonzo Wiley's eventual goal was to open another Grooming Gallery in Atlanta, and he was making plans to begin scouting locations, according to his niece. He was also mulling over opening a restaurant called Wiley's Wings and Daiquiris.

"He really had big dreams," said Terri Davillier, a friend. 

Azona Wiley said Alonzo Wiley, known as "Zo" or "Zomula," was her favorite uncle. He was determined to be successful, create wealth and leave a legacy for his family. 

And Alonzo Wiley's "family" was a big one. 

"He poured so much love into a person, that even his friends became his family," Azona Wiley said.

Written By Michelle Hunter

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