[image-1]David Reader, the talented 26-year-old principal cellist of the Augusta Symphony Orchestra, was shot to death Sunday. He was found in his car with two gunshots wounds to the chest.

The engine was still running and his cello was in the backseat. Police have since identified a suspect in what they now think was a drug deal gone wrong, according to the Augusta Chronicle. The suspects name is Anthony Gerome Joe Jr., 19.

Reader was well-known and well-liked and expected to go far among many musicians who travel to Augusta, Savannah, and Hilton Head Island to perform. In April, he played for the Savannah Choral Society’s performance of La Traviata.

The Chronicle called Reader’s father in Wachita, Kansas:

“Through continued encouragement of mentors that saw his talent and the beauty of his music, he persevered,” said Dr. Whitney Reader in a phone interview Monday from Kansas. “He was just beginning to enjoy the success that he had worked so long to prepare for.”

A native of Wichita, Kan., Mr. Reader was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Georgia State University, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in cello performance, respectively.

As a 5-year-old, he joined seven musically talented siblings, learning to play the piano and violin, Dr. Reader said.

But he switched to the cello as a teenager.

The cello was more than an instrument to Mr. Reader, his father said, it was a way for the normally subdued young man to communicate with the world.

“David used music to say things the way other people use words,” Dr. Reader said. “He was one of those rare people who could bring you to tears when you heard him play.”

Sandra Self, the executive director of the Augusta Symphony, called Mr. Reader’s death a “huge loss” and said she hadn’t noticed anything unusual about Mr. Reader in the days before his death.

“Everything was fine,” Ms. Self said. “He was a fun cellist and the leader of the section. He was also very excited about this coming year, about the conductor search. He loved music and loved doing what he was doing.”

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