The Mission Hill community is mourning the loss of a beloved hardware store owner who was fatally shot during what authorities believe was a robbery Tuesday afternoon.
Immediately after the slaying, friends and neighbors expressed shock at the death of 58-year-old Andres Cruz, extolling the owner of AC Hardware at 1562 Tremont Street as a much-loved member of the community who would help anyone in need.
Neighbor Bruce Bickerstaff called his killing “truly senseless.”
“This guy is an icon in this community and you just wouldn’t believe that anyone, because he’s known by everyone, would want to harm him,” Bickerstaff told Fox25.
Authorities said police responded to a report of the shooting at about 4 p.m. and pursued a vehicle leaving the scene. Three men exited the car and fled on foot in the area of Cedar Street and Lambert Avenue, according to police. Officers chased the three men and arrested them. Boston police identified the men as Christian Soto-Olivero, 21, of Mattapan, Jerome Hobson, 38, of Dorchester, and Shawn Redden, 26, of Brockton.
All three are facing murder and firearm charges, according to the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.
“Allegedly we have three real punks here who came into this neighborhood and brought a lot of pain and suffering to this community, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at the scene Tuesday.
Last month, Cruz’s store was named the 2017 Mission Hill Main Streets Business of Year.
“Whether it’s an odd type of screw, a quick duplicate key, the right color paint or anything to repair or improve your home, see Andres at AC!” an announcement in the Mission Hill Gazette reads. “This cozy little old-fashioned hardware has everything you need or he will get it for you.”
According to the Gazette, Cruz was a Jamaica Plain resident with a son and daughter, and a grandfather to four.
State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez was among the city officials who walked Wednesday to the makeshift memorial that has grown outside the store, according to The Boston Globe.
Sanchez told the newspaper he’d known Cruz his whole life and said the shop owner kept the names of his customers who he’d given credit.
“It was like you were going to his house,” Sanchez told the Globe. “He’d want to make you a sandwich and ask you if you wanted a shot of moonshine or rum. You went in for your wares and a smile.”
A banner with Cruz’s photo proclaiming the honor hangs on a pole near the shop, according to newspaper. Neighbor Lisa Daughtry told the Globe he’d owned the store for over 10 years and worked there before he owned it.
Michael Soltani, a friend of Cruz’s, told WCVB that his friend “was not about the money” and only cared about helping people.
“Whatever you gave him, he would fix it, no charge,” he said. “If you don’t have money, no problem. He helped the church if it needed a paint job. He helped anyone.”
A woman who lives across the store told the Globe Cruz was “the life of Mission Hill.”
“We were just out here a few weeks ago celebrating his store, now we’re out here mourning his death,” Monique Taylor said. “I just don’t understand it.”