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Originally published Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 6:18 PM

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Slain man from Florida had come here to make a fresh start

Travis Hood's two brothers died violently, but it was the August slaying of his best friend in Florida that prompted the 36-year-old to leave his violence-plagued neighborhood for a fresh start in Seattle. On Saturday night, four months after his arrival here, Hood was fatally shot outside a West Seattle bar.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Sadly I can hear the suspect claiming self-defense, because of the fact Mr. Hood had a... MORE
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His older brother was fatally shot during an armed robbery at a Pizza Hut in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1991. Seven years later, his younger brother — a passenger in a stolen car — was killed when the vehicle crashed during a police chase.

But it was the August slaying of his best friend that prompted Michael Travis Hood to seek a fresh start far from the violent neighborhood where he grew up.

At the urging of John Greenway, another childhood friend, Hood moved to Seattle in September and recently landed a job as a warehouse worker for Charlie's Produce, said Greenway's wife, Jodie Davis.

On Friday, Hood opened his first bank account, Davis said. On Saturday night, the 36-year-old was shot four times outside a West Seattle bar, allegedly by Lovett James Chambers, a 67-year-old felon who is now in jail on investigation of homicide.

The motive for the shooting is unknown. But according to Seattle police, Chambers, a regular at the Feedback Lounge on California Avenue Southwest, was observed "glaring" at Hood inside the bar, though the men didn't exchange any words.

When Hood left the bar just before 10 p.m., Chambers allegedly followed him outside and aggressively confronted him. Hood grabbed a shovel to defend himself and Chambers allegedly pulled a .45-caliber handgun and shot Hood four times.

Chambers was arrested at his home less than 1 ½ miles from the bar, according to police. The deadline to file charges is Wednesday.

For Hood's friends and family in two corners of the country, his death is a tragic mystery.

"Travis hasn't been there long enough to make any enemies," Heather Williams, the mother of Hood's 12-year-old daughter, Destiny, said by phone from Jacksonville. "When he made the choice to go to Washington, everybody thought it was a great, new start. He was just doing so good and was on the right path."

Davis, Greenway and their two children followed Davis' sister and brother-in-law to Seattle in October 2010 from Jacksonville. Part of the city's allure was its low crime rate, Davis said. She said Hood wanted to make enough money to bring Williams and Destiny to Seattle, too.

Now Davis and Greenway are trying to find cheap flights home to Florida so they can attend Hood's funeral. His body is to be flown back to Jacksonville in the next few days and will be buried alongside his brothers.

Williams said Hood's mother is devastated by the death of her last surviving child.

Hood's older brother, Bobby Hood, was a shift supervisor at a Pizza Hut in Jacksonville. He and another employee were found fatally shot in the restaurant's men's room in January 1991. Two men were convicted; one was sentenced to death and the other to life in prison, court records show.

In August 1998, Arron Leggett, Hood's younger brother, was a passenger in a stolen car, according to news reports in the Florida Times-Union newspaper. The driver lost control of the speeding Dodge Neon and Leggett was fatally injured when he was thrown from the vehicle.

The newspaper also reported on the Aug. 22 shooting of Mark Lee, who was found dead in his front yard following what police there said was a possible home-invasion robbery.

Court records in Duval County, Fla., show that Hood had a number of run-ins with the law in 2006 and 2007 but he does not appear to have spent any significant time behind bars.

Hood, Leggett, Lee and Greenway all grew up together in Jacksonville's Paxon neighborhood, an urban ghetto "with a lot of murders and a lot of drug dealing," Davis said. Hood fell into a deep depression after Leggett died, she said. After Lee was killed, Davis said it didn't take much persuading for Hood to move to Seattle.

"Travis was a great dude. He would do anything for anybody," she said. "This move changed his life."

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

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