A beloved youth basketball coach was gunned down outside his California home, and shattered relatives are struggling to understand why someone would want to kill the beloved dad of two.
Claudell Walter, 38, was fatally shot late Saturday as he left his truck in front of his Menifee home, with his 13-year-old son still inside the vehicle.
Walter, who co-founded DTermined Basketball in Corona, had just returned home after wrapping up a day of youth basketball games in Orange County, KABC reports.
“He was a big gentle giant, non-confrontational,” Walter’s brother-in-law DaShaun Thomas told the outlet. “He was just about his kids, his family and helping people achieve their goals.”
Thomas, who co-founded the basketball organization with Walter, said thousands of young aspiring athletes are now without one of their positive role models.
“What I would want to say to the killer is, I don’t know what his motives were, but he damaged a generation of kids as well,” Thomas said. “Not just Claudell’s kids, but hundreds, thousands of kids.”
Walter’s wife, Melissa, told KTLA her life has been a “nightmare” since the slaying.
“They stole my kids’ father,” she told the station. “My husband, father-in-law’s son, a brother, best friend, a coach. They took him from lots of people.”
Walter was also remembered as the “anchor” of the basketball program, never too busy for his young hoopsters.
“He loved coaching and mentoring athletes,” the youth sports club posted on Facebook. “He put his heart and [soul] into the next generation and we are stunned that such [a] thing could happen … This is a very hard pill to swallow. It’s so sad [that] something so cruel can happen to such a great person.”
One of the young men Walter coached credited him with teaching him how to shoot a basketball at age 7.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard about it,” the boy told KTLA. “He was always there.”
A spokesperson for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department told The Post that no arrests had been made as of Thursday. Homicide detectives have asked anyone with information about the slaying to call investigators at (951) 955-2777.