By Colleen Callander SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Jessie Orta was driving down Shonnard Street on Syracuse’s Near West Side when something grabbed her attention and forced her to make a U-turn. It was the shining balloons, lit candles and white poster board that caught her eye. She pulled up to the sidewalk and got out of her car to take a closer look at the memorial site for Jose L. Fuentes.
“It’s been a while since I last saw him, but what I do know is that he was definitely a great person,” Orta said.
Fuentes, 46, died early Sunday morning after police were called to a possible shooting on Shonnard Street, the Syracuse Police Department said. According to officers, when they arrived at the scene, they found a man seriously injured. American Medical Response, a medical transportation company, pronounced him dead.
“I’m just speechless because I know a lot of people liked him,” Orta said. “He’s done a lot of great things for the community.”
According to Orta, who lives just a few blocks over from Shonnard Street, Fuentes was a member of the group O.G.’s Against Violence, and he often participated in community events with children in the neighborhood and the local schools.
“It breaks my heart, because that’s another good person lost,” she added.
The messages written on the poster reveal that Fuentes was a father and an uncle. Family and friends gathered on Sunday night set up the memorial and lit candles in his honor.
Detectives are calling the death “suspicious” and right now, it does not appear to be the result of a shooting. The Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office will perform an autopsy, but until results are known, police will not release further information.
The Syracuse Police Department asks anyone with information about the death to call them at (315) 442-5222.