A 60-year-old Army veteran in Florida was shot and killed on Veteran’s Day after he apparently stopped to help a stranger who was having car trouble, authorities said.
Detectives believe Carlos Cruz Echevarria — who went by Carlos Cruz — was fatally shot Saturday near his home in Deltona, Fla. after he approached a suspect who was trying to get a car freed from a ditch, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. Cruz appears to have offered to help the suspect by bringing over his truck to pull the car out. Authorities said the suspect then shot Cruz to death, stole the veteran’s truck and fled.
Cruz was found dead in the ditch near the car, which authorities later determined to be stolen, just before 8 p.m. Authorities offered a $10,000 reward for help finding the suspect.
“We owe it to Mr. Cruz and his family to find the ruthless, cold-blooded killer or killers who took his life,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a statement Monday. “It takes a special kind of evil to gun down a stranger who is only trying to help you. And anyone who knows something and stays silent is complicit in this heinous act.”
Cruz was married for 34 years, the sheriff’s office said. His brother-in-law, Edgar Burgos, said Cruz was always generous and helpful to anyone in need.
“If you needed something and he had it, he would give it to you,” Burgos said in a statement. “Knowing him, I bet he went over there to see if they needed help.”
“He died on Veterans Day, helping somebody out,” Burgos told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “It’s tragic.”