Patrick Smith’s elderly neighbor had just been burglarized and she was afraid to go back into her house so she called on the Smith family.
“Patrick and I waited out front of our home for a while until we thought everything was clear,” Smith’s wife Elizabeth wrote on a GoFundMe page.
One of the teenaged suspects had already run through the Smith’s backyard in the Barstow community of California that night of Nov. 14.
When he finally ventured out, Smith was confronted, and shot eight times, by a gunman among a group of five teenagers who are accused of burglarizing the nearby home. Officers were already on the scene when they heard the gunshots from the side of the house.
Smith, 41, died of his injuries 10 days later, on Thanksgiving.
The GoFundMe page, as of Saturday afternoon, has swelled to more than $27,000 from more than 600 people on a goal of only $5,000.
The gunman has been identified by the Barstow Police Department as 18-year-old Leslie Hawkins, but he remains on the loose. Four other suspects, ages 15-17, were arrested near the scene and were booked into the San Bernardino County High Desert Juvenile Detention Center.
In addition to his wife, Smith leaves behind a 5-year-old son.
“Patrick, being a gentleman, went and checked her home which was clear but once he entered the backyard the suspect shot Patrick eight times,” his wife wrote on the GoFundMe page.
“My husband is the greatest man in the world, has always put others before himself and would do this all over again for any of our neighbors, friends, or family,” his wife wrote on the fundraising site before he died.
Barstow police ask that if anyone has information on the crime or the location of Hawkins, they can contact Det. Thomas Lewis at 760-255-5187 remain anonymous via 800-782-7469 or the We-Tip website at www.wetip.com.