It was supposed to be a normal day for Ricky Romero, 21, as he headed to work at an auto dealership where he was a detailer. But as he left his apartment he was shot -- killed apparently over his car rims.
Augustin Piedra, the victim's brother, said, "How could somebody do that just for a set of rims? If you wanted the car, take the car, but you didn't have to take my brother."
They are the questions which will haunt Piedra forever -- how something so meaningless as a set of tires apparently cost his brother's life. Piedra is not showing his face out of fear of retaliation.
"He put his sweat into getting those rims and for someone to come, and take them just because they like them, it's sad," he said.
Investigators say Romero had just left his apartment Thursday morning and was on his way to work when he was confronted by at least one gunman in the parking lot of his complex; it's believed the gunman demanded Romero's car keys. When he refused, he was shot three times. Investigators say the suspect or suspects got away in Romero's lime green Taurus. Neighbors saw the aftermath.
Neighbor Cassandra Whittington recalled, "I seen him on the ground. He was just rolling back and forth. He had a lot of blood on him."
Family members say Romero had invested a lot of money into his car, including paying hundreds for the chrome spoke rims. It's those rims investigators believe may have been the true target.
Harris County Sheriff's Office Homicide Investigator Felipe Rivera explained, "They're expensive, and other people want them."
Romero may just be the latest victim of that crime -- a crime that has left a two-year-old boy without his father and a whole family searching for answers.
"My brother died for material, for something materialistic," Piedra said. "That's sad. It's sad what we've come to."
Authorities are trying to locate the victim's 2003 lime green Ford Taurus with chrome spoke rims and Texas license plate JZR 258. If you have any information, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.