‘The kids loved him’: Family, Little League mourns coach killed in Ridgeview/Webster shooting

A 26-year-old San Diego man fatally shot at a liquor store last week is remembered as a devoted father and beloved Little League coach.

Eric Carroll loved baseball so much that even though he didn’t have a child old enough to play, he volunteered to coach a Sunshine Little League team in City Heights.

Jose Lopez, league president, said Carroll was like a big brother to the players on his team, who range in age from 13 to 15.

“The kids loved him,” Lopez said.

According to San Diego police, Carroll was shot at about 1:30 a.m. on July 17 after he and another customer got into an argument at a liquor store on Federal Boulevard near 50th Street in the Ridgeview/Webster neighborhood. Police said the shooter pulled out a gun and shot Carroll in the head as he left the store.

A 33-year-old suspect, Ryan Myers, was arrested three days later. Myers, also known as Ryan Stewart, was charged in San Diego Superior Court with murder. He also faces allegations that he killed Carroll for the benefit of a street gang and that he was a felon in possession of a gun, according to the criminal complaint.

Carroll was killed at a happy time in his life. His family and friends had just celebrated his daughter’s first birthday on July 16 at his father’s home in Chula Vista, according to his brother Carroll.

Juan Vargas, 28, remembered his younger brother as a family man and a kind young man who could befriend anyone, regardless of their background. He described Carroll as the “life of the party” and said he encouraged anyone around him.

Vargas added that Carroll was ambitious – he set goals and wasn’t afraid of failure.

“That’s the one thing I really admired about him,” Vargas said. “He believed in himself.”

Carroll worked in the craft beer industry and recently took a job at Boochcraft, a high-alcohol kombucha company.

Vargas said Carroll gravitated toward baseball when he was 6 or 7 years old. He loved the Padres.

About a year ago, Carroll approached Lopez and asked if he could coach a team. In his first season as a manager, in the fall, his team did not win a single game. But Carroll built a relationship with the players so strong that they signed on for another season last spring, Lopez said.

“For this kid to commit to his community, to these kids, it was awesome,” Lopez said, adding that his son was on Carroll’s team and “really connected with him.”

Vargas said his brother’s passion for baseball led him to coach Little League, but that Carroll also enjoyed transforming teenagers into “instrumental members of our society, not just good baseball players.”

Vargas said his brother’s dedication to Sunshine Little League, with nothing to gain but fulfilling a longtime passion, speaks volumes for his character.

“That alone will speak to any adult in our society who knows how hard it is to make time for something when we have our daily lives that we live as well,” Vargas said.

Lopez said Carroll wanted to help grow Sunshine Little League. One idea he had was to organize a low-cost or no-cost camp to get kids off the streets during the summer. He added that Carroll was looking forward to his 4-year-old daughter playing T-ball.

On Sunday, the league held a vigil that brought together players and Carroll’s family to honor him. They released balloons and talked about Carroll’s impact on their lives as they stood on their home turf, Sunshine Berardini Field.

“It was the happy part of him,” Lopez said.

Sunshine Little League plans to emblazon hats with Carroll’s initials for next season.

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‘The kids loved him’: Family, Little League mourns coach killed in Ridgeview/Webster shooting Source link ‘The kids loved him’: Family, Little League mourns coach killed in Ridgeview/Webster shooting

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