“His history makes it troublesome, because there’s so many scenarios that we’ve got to narrow down,” police spokesman Lt. Mark Carpentiere said Thursday. “Sometimes these things fall together really quickly and sometimes they take time.”
Velez, 22, was shot in the head around 10:20 p.m. Wednesday outside Southerners Place at 2926 Pearl Ave. The killing came about four months after Velez — who had numerous convictions, including resisting arrest, theft and possession of marijuana — was charged with felonious assault March 20.
Velez was accused of shooting 22-year-old Lorain resident Christian McAfee in the hand near Vic’s Nightclub in downtown Elyria after a fight at the bar. Police said they found a .44-caliber pistol in the Lincoln Navigator that Velez was driving when he was stopped shortly after the shooting.
Carpentiere said no gun was found on Velez after he was killed, but Velez’s cousin Juan Maldonado said Velez told him he had been carrying a pistol the last few weeks because he feared for his life.
Jose Torres, Velez’s stepfather, said early Friday that his stepson was killed outside Southerners while intervening in a fight between friends.
Violence at or around Southerners is common. Between July 25, 2009, and Wednesday, police were called to the south side bar 83 times, according to department records. Calls included numerous arguments, fights and reports of shots fired, including a incident on June 22 of last year in which the bar window was shot out.
“The bar’s got a very long history of being a place we have to frequent,” said Carpentiere, a Lorain officer since 1990.
Jimmy Sanchez, who said he has been managing the bar since December, said when customers cause problems, they are told to leave.
“Outside is not our problem,” Sanchez said.
Despite his criminal history, Torres said Velez was a loyal, outgoing and protective and was only defending himself in the Vic’s incident. Torres said Velez had talked recently about returning to automotive school after leaving due to money problems.
“He was a good kid,” Torres said. “He was always trying to make you feel good, even in the bad moments.”
Around 12:30 a.m. today about 15 of Velez’s friends and family stood outside a makeshift candlelight vigil on the sidewalk outside Southerners.
“You should’ve called me,” Ruth Kelly,Velez’s grief-stricken mother said as she stared at a picture of her son on a T-shirt. “I love you.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.