Adrian Hutchins was just across Max Baer Park, walking to his mom's house early Tuesday when he was gunned down a few yards from her front doorstep, say those closest to the south Sacramento man.
And hours after police found his body near 35th Avenue, friends and relatives said they still were baffled and pained over how Hutchins, who turned 21 last month, became the 16th homicide victim of the year in Sacramento.
"We don't know who killed him; he never bothered anybody," said Hutchins' aunt, Mary Reed, who saw her nephew's body shortly after the shooting. "He was very quiet."
Police late Tuesday were searching for a gunman and a newer-model dark four-door sedan -- possibly a Mercedes or Toyota -- seen fleeing the scene.
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Details surrounding the shooting also remained unclear, but Officer Konrad Von Schoech said it appeared that Hutchins did not know his assailant.
Neighbors in the area reported hearing five to six gunshots. At least one of those, police said, was fatal.
A few steps from the bloodstained sidewalk, about a dozen of Hutchins' friends and family gathered at the park to mourn.
They said the young man had moved into his own apartment about a year and a half ago, held down a job as a furniture store employee and often was the first person -- if not the only one -- to step in and help.
Denice Lawrence, a close family friend, said it was Hutchins who came to her aid recently when she ran out of groceries and money to feed her four children.
"He's always willing to help, always," she said. And "he loved his family, his family was his heart."
Earlier Tuesday, the aunt said she learned that Hutchins had left a friend's house in the area and was on his way to his mother's place on the other side of the park when he was shot.
The family, she said, had experienced a similar tragedy about five years ago when Hutchins' 18-year-old cousin also was killed at Max Baer Park, on the other side of the playground.
But this death, Reed said, has left Hutchins' mother unable to stand, unable to speak.
"Adrian is now resting up above," she said sobbing.
"He was a very, very beautiful kid."
Police ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at (916) 443-HELP.