Deltona, FL – An Army veteran was gunned down on Saturday night as he tried to help a driver whose car was stuck in a muddy ditch, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.
The caller told authorities he got a flashlight to see what was going on, and found a man lying in the ditch next to the car.
It was the body of 60-year-old Carlos Cruz Echevarria.
Investigators said the victim – known as Carlos Cruz to his friends and family – was shot and left to die.
Authorities said they believe Cruz was outside when he heard the car crash into the ditch, and that he went to see what happened.
After he discovered the vehicle was stuck, investigators said Cruz returned with his truck in order to pull the car back onto the roadway.
Sheriff Chitwood said Cruz was then shot, and his truck was stolen.
Just hours later, his torched pickup was found near Orlando.
“By all accounts this was a Good Samaritan that was killed while trying to help someone,” Sheriff Chitwood said.
Cruz’s brother-in-law, Edgar Burgos, is also an employee at the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
He said Cruz was honorably discharged after a “short stint” in the Army, and that he was always willing to help others, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
“He died on Veterans Day, helping somebody out,” Burgos said. “It’s tragic.”
On Monday, Sheriff Chitwood authorized a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of Cruz’s killer.
“We owe it to Mr. Cruz and his family to find the ruthless, cold-blooded killer or killers who took his life,” Sheriff Chitwood said.
“It takes a special kind of evil to gun down a stranger who is only trying to help you,” he said. “And anyone who knows something and stays silent is complicit in this heinous act.”