New York

Slain Good Samaritan Sailor Remembered by Former Host Mom

The woman said the victim had a heart of gold and would help anybody in need

Investigators tell NBC 7 they are looking into whether more people were involved in the shooting death of an active-duty sailor Saturday on the shoulder of Interstate 15.

Brandon Acuna, 21, suspected of killing 21-year-old Curtis Adams, was taken into custody shortly after the shooting but the San Diego Police Department says more people could be responsible.

SDPD said Adams was driving southbound on I-15 around 2:20 a.m. when he saw what he thought was a stranded driver near the northbound Interstate 5 on-ramp and pulled over to help.

When Adams got out of his car and approached the stranded vehicle, he was shot, SDPD Lt. Anthony Dupree said.

He was with his girlfriend at the time who quickly called 911. Adams was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center where he died.

The news of Adams' death spread quickly to his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, and hit especially hard for a Rhode Island host family that took him in for several summers through the Fresh Air Fund, a program that pairs New York kids with families and even provides them with summer vacations.

"Our two boys and daughter hit it off from the beginning. They became a family. He was a son to me,” Tammy Gosselin said. 

Gosselin had no shortage of positive things to say about Adams, describing him as a "polite and sweet boy" who had a heart of gold and would help anybody.

Gosselin ran a daycare and told NBC7 Adams enjoyed playing with the kids, during the times he spent with her family.

Gosselin also recalled one of the first things Adams ever said to her -- that it was relieving that he could go outside in the evening in his new neighborhood without worrying about crime.

The car Acuna was in sped off after the shooting and he was taken into custody when California Highway Patrol spotted the car on northbound I-5 near 32nd Street and contacted SDPD.

Acuna was booked into San Diego County Central Jail on charges of first-degree murder and second-degree burglary and held with no bail.

“Acuna took away a young life. Adams had so much to offer.  And Acuna will just end up behind bars with a roof over his head and hot meals. It's not fair," Gosselin said.

According to Gosselin, Adams' father and brother both served in the Navy.

It was unclear why Acuna shot Adams.

Investigators say Acuna was involved in another shooting 10 minutes earlier near the 600 block of Boundary Street in Mount Hope. He allegedly shot at a man who interrupted his attempt to break into the man's car, according to police.

The investigations of both incidents are ongoing, police said.

Records reveal Acuna has a history of misdemeanor offenses and show he was fined and sentenced to three years probation on Sept. 7, just six weeks before the fatal shooting.

Anyone with information about the incidents was urged to call the Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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