"I went outside, sat down and cried a little bit, but then I got angry," Korey Barnett says of receiving the heartbreaking news

By Christina Dugan
January 24, 2019 08:15 PM
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Kevin Barnett‘s family is grieving the loss of the late comedian.

Days after the Rel co-creator unexpectedly died in Mexico at age 32, Kevin’s older brother Korey Witha K tells PEOPLE that the star’s death came as a surprise to his loved ones.

“I haven’t seen my dad in person. I know he went over to Mexico to verify everything. I drove down from Tallahassee to see my mom and my brother, Kristopher. She’s like eight of 13 children, so there are a lot of aunties involved. She’s not taking it very well,” Korey shares. “She knew something bad might happen, but she never thought it would happen to one of us.”

“When I got the call, I thought maybe he got kidnapped or maybe something else,” says Korey. “I didn’t expect this.”

Korey says that he was at work when he received the heartbreaking news.

“I went outside, sat down and cried a little bit, but then I got angry. I just started thinking about different things — things that can go through someone’s head for a while,” says Korey.

On Thursday, E! News reported that Kevin died from complications caused by pancreatitis.

“The corresponding autopsy was carried out, which determined that the cause of death was: Non Traumatic Hemorrhage, caused by pancreatitis,” the Chief of the Forensic Medical Service told E! in a statement. Kevin’s body was reportedly received on Jan. 22 at 5:50 a.m.

“At the moment his body is still in facilities of the Forensic Medical Service of Tijuana, waiting to be delivered to his family members who are performing the legal proceedings,” the statement continued.

According to the Mayo Clinic, pancreatitis “is inflammation in the pancreas. The pancreas is a long, flat gland that sits tucked behind the stomach in the upper abdomen. The pancreas produces enzymes that help digestion and hormones that help regulate the way your body processes sugar (glucose).”

“Pancreatitis can occur as acute pancreatitis — meaning it appears suddenly and lasts for days. Or pancreatitis can occur as chronic pancreatitis, which is pancreatitis that occurs over many years,” Mayo Clinic states. “Mild cases of pancreatitis may go away without treatment, but severe cases can cause life-threatening complications.”

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Korey says he was not aware of any health concerns his brother may have suffered from.

The last time the brothers saw one another was ahead of the new year, when Kevin visited Palm Beach.

“He’s usually working, but he took off this time and he wanted to start a new path, with different avenues,” Korey recalls. “We talked about how his career is going to go up from here. He was going to take a risk and cut back on writing and do other stuff. He was looking forward to taking the next leap.”

Over the weekend, Kevin shared his last-ever social media post: a photo of himself on a sidewalk in Mexico.

The trip south of the border came as a surprise to Korey, who says, “When I saw the picture on Instagram, I said, ‘Wow. What are you doing in Mexico?’ ”

“He knows … that Mexico isn’t the place to be going to. I’ve been there and we saw the dangers of it quickly. We always made jokes. Of course he makes a lot of jokes. He meant well at the end of the day. I feel like he was more sensitive than I am when it comes to certain things,” says Korey. “I would take things too far and he’d be my voice of reason. We were also, without realizing or saying it to each other, in competition with each other. The thing is, we like to impress each other without realizing it. We were each other’s hardest critics.”

Now, as he continues to process the loss of his younger brother, Korey says his purpose in life has a new focus.

“What’s the point of doing things now? The point for me was to show my brother, then everyone else after him,” he says. “It redefines my purpose. I was upset with him at first, but there’s nothing I can do.”