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Vigil Held For Father Of 2 Bludgeoned To Death At Santa Monica Pier

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA)  --  A vigil was held Saturday evening for Steven Cruze Jr., the father of two who was found bludgeoned to death early Thursday at the Santa Monica Pier.

Tonight, family and friends of the 39-year-old avid fisherman, wrote on balloons and released them at the end of the Santa Monica pier in his honor.

KCAL9's Jeff Nguyen spoke to Cruze's devastated loved ones.

Cruze sometimes slept underneath the pier friends said to get a head start on the commute to one of his two jobs.

"I'm missing him more and more," said his mother Debbie.

Cruze lived in San Gabriel but worked two jobs in Marina Del Rey. Authorities initially and erroneously believed Cruze was homeless.

In addition to being hard-working, his family said he also loved to fish at the pier – and that is how his family wanted to remember him.

"It's tough. That's all I can say. It's tough. Now, shoot, I can't even come with my nephew over here no more. And that hurts," said his uncle Steve Smith.

Cruze's death comes after three homeless men were beaten with a a baseball bat in downtown LA last Sunday. Two of those men died, a third is still hospitalized. They were beaten while they slept.

The crimes were caught on security video. They show the suspect with a distinctive walk because of his bowed legs.

A fourth homeless person suffered critical injuries after he was attacked at an encampment early Saturday morning.

It's unclear if Cruze's case is connected to the other four.

But his mother is hoping to get closure for her grandsons who are 9 and 12.

She's especially concerned about James, the older one.

"If we don't find him, get him any justice, it's just going to haunt him all his life if we don't do nothing. He's just so angry. He and his dad were really close," said Cruze's mom.

Police don't have any leads. They believe the person who murdered Cruze did so in a robbery.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account.

Son James spoke of his father. Simple, eloquent and touching all at once.

"Hi I'm James. My Daddy was murdered under the Santa Monica Pier 9/20/18 he was the best daddy. He taught me how to fish and told me to be nice to everyone. I want to give my daddy a nice funeral. Thank you, James."

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