The National City community came together Saturday for a fundraiser for the family of a man shot and killed outside a restaurant Tuesday while attending a World Cup viewing party.
With sponges in hand, loved ones held a car wash and shared fond memories of Josue Crook, 36, an active member of Cornerstone Church of San Diego known for his kind demeanor and willingness to always lend a helping hand or shoulder to lean on.
“He was a great man. He was a godly man. He taught me how to be a man and how to worship the Lord,” said Crook’s 21-year-old nephew, Jaime Valenzuelo.
“He was always there for me and for everybody here in this city. He was always supporting my family, his family, friends – even people that he would just meet on the first day, he would support them and show them nothing but love,” he added.
Crook died from injuries sustained in a shooting outside the Rincon Del Mar restaurant at 324 Highland Ave. on Tuesday evening. The suspect or suspects responsible for the fatal shooting remain at large and the investigation into the murder is ongoing.
“I’m praying that whoever did this, that if anyone knows anything, please talk,” begged his sister, Sara Crook, at Saturday’s fundraiser. “I’m going to keep pressing on. This is family, this is my brother, and we’re not going to stop [until we find who did this].”
Though the pain of losing her older brother is unbearable, Sara said she and her family are at peace with his death and are putting everything into God’s hands, just as Crook would’ve wanted it.
They find solace in the fact that God took him for a reason, she said, and she’s thankful for the outpouring of love and support from the community, Crook’s church, friends and loved ones.
Sara said her brother was a father-figure to her growing up, and a role model and counselor to her and so many others. She said healing will be difficult for the family, but not impossible.
“There’s still a lot of heartache, there’s still a lot of sadness,” Sara told NBC 7.
“He meant everything to me; he was my everything. He was always there to help me,” she added, holding back tears.
Valenzuelo said he’ll always be thankful to his uncle for encouraging him to read the bible and for the life advice he often gave him – up until the very end.
Valenzuelo said he got a chance to see Crook for the last time just a few days before the deadly shooting. The two ate pizza together and Crook shared more of his wisdom.
“God allowed me to say my goodbyes. [My uncle] told me he loved me,” he said.
Again, the killing remains under investigation and anyone with information should contact the National City Police Department Communications Center at (619) 336-4411, ext. 0.
Crook’s family believes he was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Earlier this week, a friend told NBC 7 that Crook had been watching the World Cup with friends at Rincon Del Mar and was trying to break up a random fight at the restaurant when he got caught in the crossfire. Loved ones have insisted Crook wasn’t a violent or aggressive person.
In addition to Saturday’s event, the family has set up a memorial fund and an "In Memory of Josue Crook" Facebook page in honor of the victim. Memorial plans have not been set just yet.