Syracuse, N.Y. — A Syracuse family is struggling to understand how a man helping cook dinner for another grieving family while watching children this weekend ended up a homicide victim.
Tyree Lawson, 30, of Syracuse, was at a family member’s house Saturday evening on Oakwood Avenue when someone shot and killed him.
“He was not a street person so it’s very surprising and hurtful to process,” his sister-in-law Erica Kearse said. “He’s a loving, joyful person. He’s a brother, a cousin…”
Lawson was helping make food for someone’s funeral the next day and watching his younger cousins while other adults ran errands when he killed, his family said.
“He was doing what he does — being helpful, loving and kind,” Kearse said.
At 7:52 p.m. Saturday, someone walked up to 351 Oakwood Ave. and shot Lawson on the porch, Syracuse police and family members said.
Lawson was rushed to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Family members say they believe Lawson’s death was a case of “mistaken identity.”
“That’s not the life he led,” said Kearse, who is married to Lawson’s older brother, Rufus Kearse Jr. “We can’t think of anyone who wanted to harm him.”
Lawson grew up with his mom in Connecticut. His mother, Cheryl Lawson, died of cancer in 2007. He then lived with his godmother while he completed high school.
He played football, and ran track and field at Bloomfield High School, where he graduated from in 2008. Tyree Lawson attended college in Connecticut for a year, but then decided to move to Syracuse about 10 years ago to be closer to family, Kearse said.
As long as Kearse can remember, she said Tyree Lawson has always been employed. He was currently working at Joe’s to Go Delivery on West Onondaga Street, she said. He previously worked at the Syracuse Boys & Girls Club.
“He was young and he had the capacity to continue to grow and evolve,” Kearse said.
Lawson hoped to one day get married and have children, she said.
“They took his future,” Kearse said. “It was an unnecessary loss. We need to begin to value one another.”
Lawson is survived by his father, Rufus Kearse Sr.; his brothers, Rufus Jr. and Josiah Kearse; a sister, Ebony Branch; and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Syracuse police ask anyone with information about Lawson’s shooting death to call them at (315) 442-5222. His family is also hoping someone will come forward to help bring justice for Lawson.
“Our community is so small so a loss impacts the broader community,” Kearse said. “We cannot begin to harbor and protect those in our community who cause violence and tear apart families.”
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