Relatives and friends of 59-year-old Jose Hewitt gathered on the sidewalk Thursday afternoon, outside the front entrance to the apartment building where police say Hewitt was fatally beaten by robbers who intended to hold up another resident.
Investigators say Hewitt, who lived inside one of the apartments at 617 Pine Avenue, answered a call to open the front door and was struck in the head by his attackers. The victim was found just inside the doorway by police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
His family described Hewitt as a loving, friendly person willing to help anyone.
"He had regular get-togethers to keep the family close," said Cory Hewitt, the victim's nephew. "We were just talking about Easter coming up."
Police arrested and charged 22-year-old Shequan Herbert and 18-year-old Stephanie Raymond, both of Niagara Falls, with second-degree murder and robbery. A third suspect was still sought as of late Thursday afternoon.
Investigators believe Hewitt was not the intended target.
"He was just a good guy, an uncle to all," said Angelina Carr, who told WBFO the victim was part of her daughter's family. "I was very close to the family and him. Living down the street, we all got to be really close over all these years of living near each other."
Cory Hewitt says the family is not entirely relieved that arrests were made so quickly, because even then the suspects might still get a chance to live freely "whether it's 50 years from now, or 10 years from now."
"Jose was getting his health back. He was getting himself together," Hewitt said. "They cut him short."