CINCINNATI - Neighbors and customers gathered outside of Cosmic Pizza in Hartwell Sunday to grieve the loss of that restaurant's owner.
Richard Evans, a husband and father of three young children, was shot and killed Saturday after 6 p.m. during an attempted robbery at his eatery, according to Cincinnati police.
Responding officers said Evans was shot multiple times inside the restaurant, then ran outside the building before collapsing in Bill Wesley's front yard.
Wesley was in the back of his house when the shooting happened. Another neighbor spotted Evans and wrapped his arms around him as he passed away.
"When I come around, you could see he was already...he didn't have any color in his skin," said Wesley. "His eyes were glazed and looking out. You could tell he was gone."
Wesley said Evans was passionate about making his business a success. A play room was set up in the back of the pizzeria for his wife and three children.
"He worked seven days a week. Even on his off day, they were here all day doing different things. He wanted to make it a really nice place for people to eat. He rebuilt the upstairs and made it really nice so people could come in with their kids, have dinner and really enjoy it," said Wesley.
Evans' family was inside the restaurant at the time of the incident.
"It's very sad. This is a very sad thing that's happened. It's Father's Day," said Matt Madison, a neighbor and father of three.
Madison and his wife said they were two of the first people to alert authorities to what had happened. They also attempted to provide whatever assistance they could at the scene, according to Madison.
He recalls trying to help and then praying alongside Evans' wife in the final moments of the pizzeria owner's life.
"I'm glad someone was there for him in that terrible time," said Madison, adding that everyone who was near the restaurant at the time of the shooting attempted to be there for Evans and his family in one way or another.
"Other members of the community were on the street and were able to take the children away and help them cope with (what happened)," he said.
Jeanne Cox, of Lockland, frequents Cosmic Pizza about once a week. She says she was shocked when she learned what happened and is sad for the victim and his family.
"It's a shame. The owner of Cosmic Pizza is so sweet, food's very good," she said. "I was shocked."
Law enforcement officials said late Saturday evening that they are going to utilize as many resources as needed to apprehend the suspect.
"We have the personnel here. If we need more personnel, we will get more here and will go as needed," said Capt. Mike Neville with District 4.
The suspect is described as a heavyset African-American male in his 20s or 30s who is approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall, according to police. He was last seen driving a red, "crossover" sport utility vehicle.
Police say he is armed and dangerous.
Investigators are currently reviewing surveillance footage.
Anyone with information in this case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (513) 352-3040.
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