An eastside community is still reeling after a father of two was gunned down Saturday morning at a Lakeshore Boulevard bus stop on his way to work.
Wednesday night the family of Stephen Halton Jr. along with Cleveland police and concerned citizens joined together to discuss ongoing crime in the area.
According to Fifth District Police Commander Wayne Drummond, there have been at least seven armed robberies in the general area, in addition to Stephen's robbery and murder Saturday, and he doesn't believe it is all coincidence.
Families members say a new year meant new opportunities on the horizon for Stephen, who was on the verge of getting his dream IT job at the Cleveland Clinic before being gunned down.
"We was in church hugging each other, telling each other that we loved each other for New Years. … And then I get a phone call -- they found him dead," recalled Tawnee Norman, a relative. "He was a working man. He went to work every day, took care of his kids and his wife. ... His mother and his wife are taking it so hard. ... It's unbearable."
It's a tragic story that has touched many lives and prompted dozens to show for the East 156th Street Block Watch meeting Wednesday.
During the meeting Drummond admitted he even had personal ties to the case through a cousin Stephen coincidentally was on his way to relieve at the clinic.
"Stephen was supposed to relieve him (John, Drummond's first cousin) that morning at 6 a.m.," explained the commander. "Here he is in the process of going to save a life, and his life was taken away from him."
As police continue to hunt for Stephen's murderer, Drummond says they will also be increasing foot patrols and aggressively enforcing the teen curfew, changes police hope will encourage more leads and community support so no other innocent lives are lost.
"You just shake your head and say 'Why? What did they get from him? Nothing.' He lost his life over nothing," said Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek. "Here is a young man who was doing the right thing, supporting his family and going to work. We want justice. We want no stone left unturned. We want to try and bring these perpetrators to justice."
To date police have arrested five individuals in connection with the aggravated robberies in the area.
Stephen's funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Pentecostal Church of Christ at 10515 Chester Ave.
The Cleveland Clinic sent out this notice to staff:
I have been asked to share this tragic news and ask for your support as you see appropriate.
Steve Halton Jr. (CCF Anesthesia tech) was shot and killed at a bus stop near his home early Saturday morning January 11. He was on his way to work--called in for a liver transplant--for what would have been one of his last shifts as an anesthesia tech. As many of you know, Steve was moving on to an IT job with the Clinic, a job he has worked towards for a long time. It was his dream job.
It goes without saying that everyone loved Steve. He on countless occasions made each and every one of our day's easier and more positive with his overwhelming kindness, energy, efficiency, and dedication to his work.
Please donate whatever you can to help his wife and two young children during this time of intense need. A fund has been set up to assist Halton's family.