SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Community members are rallying to help a family, after the death of a father and popular little league coach, shot outside a liquor store in central San Diego.
Photos taken that afternoon, two Saturdays ago, show a birthday party as little Mary Jane turned one. Proud papa, Eric Carroll, 26, was beaming.
“She was in her Minnie Mouse outfit. He was so excited. MJ and his girlfriend were the loves of his life,” said Carroll’s cousin, Jazmine Phillips.
Phillips says after the family party wrapped up that evening, Carroll and a small group, drove to a nearby liquor store off Federal Boulevard to get some drinks.
Police say around 1:30 a.m., inside the store, Carroll and another man got into an argument.
“We’re told they exchanged some words, not sure what was said. The man exited first. The man was outside and shot Eric,” said Phillips.
Carroll was shot in the head and rushed to a hospital, where he died several days later.
“So surreal. Too much to believe. It was heartbreaking. Very much so,” said Phillips.
The shooter escaped, but on the day Carroll died, police arrested 33-year-old Ryan Stewart on a murder charge.
The family says prosecutors told them cameras outside the store captured the shooting while a camera inside filmed the confrontation.
“We’ve been told by the DA that Eric did not provoke this man. He didn't physically threaten this man in any way,” said Phillips.
Phillips says her cousin, who worked as a forklift operator at a brewery, was always the life of the party.
"Always has the biggest smile. He’s so silly and goofy,” said Phillips.
Carroll was also a popular coach in the Sunshine Little League. Since his death, community members have rallied to help his family. Donations have poured into a Gofundme campaign.
Meanwhile, loved ones hope the legal case will end with justice.
"It doesn't fix anything, but it helps a little. Absolutely no reason for it, senseless is the word for this,” said Phillips.
Stewart pleaded not guilty last week to several charges, including the murder charge. Prosecutors declined to comment on the case.