LORAIN — Fearing for his life, Moises G. Velez had been carrying a pistol the last few weeks, said his cousin, Juan Maldonado. It didn’t save Velez.
The 22-year-old man was fatally shot in the head about 10:20 p.m. Wednesday outside Southerner’s Bar at 2926 Pearl Ave., according to police spokesman Lt. Mark Carpentiere.
Carpentiere said he didn’t know the motive for the killing, but Maldonado said it may have been connected to a March 20 shooting near Vic’s Nightclub in downtown Elyria.
No information on a suspect was available late Wednesday.
In the incident, Velez was arrested and charged with felonious assault and various gun charges after allegedly shooting Christian McAfee, 22, of Lorain, in the hand.
Police said they found a .44-caliber revolver in the Lincoln Navigator that Velez was driving when he was stopped by police shortly after the shooting.
Maldonado, 27, described Velez as calm when they spoke last week, but wary.
“He told me he was doing pretty good, but he had to be armed because there (were) a few guys looking for him,” Maldonado said. “I don’t know for what. He didn’t really tell me.”
Some 150 people gathered at the corner of East 29th Street and Pearl Avenue where Velez lay on his back for about an hour before being taken away in an ambulance. Many in the crowd were Velez’s relatives and some wept and consoled one another.
Relatives described Velez as gregarious and protective of his family. The kind of guy who would help a relative push a malfunctioning car down the street and remind men who wanted to dance with his younger cousin to treat her like a lady.
Velez had been studying automotive mechanics at Wyo Tech a technical college in Blairsville, Pa., about an hour outside Pittsburgh, but left after financial problems, Maldonado said. Velez had been living with his grandparents for the last few months.
Julio Rivera said he last saw his cousin around 8:30 p.m. when they were in a store where Velez bought cigarettes. Rivera said Velez told him he would be home soon and to save him some dinner, Rivera said Velez has friends who live near Southerners and he believes Velez went to the bar to drink with them.
“Everybody knows Mo,” Rivera said. “Everybody in this community knows Moises Velez.”
Maldonado said Velez — who had numerous convictions including resisting arrest, theft and possession of marijuana — had a temper, but usually had a sweet disposition.
“It depends on who he’s around. He acts different,” Maldonado said. “I always told him he’s hanging around with the wrong people.”
Velez’s father, Gerardo Velez, 44, agreed.
“He was a good boy, (but) he hanged in the wrong place,” the elder Velez said as he choked back tears near the crime scene. “I told him, ‘I don’t want you here hanging around. He was a good boy.”
Then a tearful Velez walked away with the help of relatives before collapsing on the ground. He was inconsolable.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.