'He was our peacemaker:' Family speaks out after loved one was killed at McDonald's in W. Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A heartbroken family spoke out for the first time Thursday about the shooting death of their beloved family member inside a McDonald's off Westheimer.

Clifton Zeno III, 47, was shot and killed Feb. 23 inside the restaurant on Tanglewilde Road just after 4 p.m., allegedly after an altercation with another man. That suspect is still on the loose.

"He was extremely fun, loving, a practical jokester," said Zeno's sister, Christina Jones.

"He was always making you laugh. Family meant everything to him," said his other sister, Teresa Garrett.

The devastated family fought back tears, but shared fond memories of Zeno.

He was the middle child, with two older sisters and two younger sisters, but they said he was always their protector.

The sisters said the 47-year-old was a devoted and loving father of seven, a grandfather of five, a brother, son, uncle and friend to many who they say always put family first.

"He was our peacemaker," said Garrett. "He always said if anybody bothered us to let him know, and he'd take care of it."
Zeno, fondly known as "Goldy," was ripped from his family's lives. Police said he was inside the McDonald's when another man confronted him.

Sandra Zeno said she spoke to her brother that morning and went to his home to visit.

"I kind of just peeked in through his blinds. I didn't see anything. I thought that maybe he went to the store," Sandra said. "Then I left, and 30 minutes later, I got a phone call. Let me know something was not right."

Police said the unknown suspect pulled out a gun and shot Zeno multiple times. Nearby business surveillance video caught the suspect, and a woman who was with him, running from the scene.

Zeno's family said they did not find out he had been the victim in the shooting until days later.

"It is not uncommon to go a couple of days without talking to him because of his work schedule," said Garrett. "He works, he turns his phone off, it goes straight to voicemail. And when he gets off, sometimes he goes right to bed because he worked for a moving company, so they would get up very early in the morning."

The family believes it took police too long to notify them of Zeno's death. Family members also said they had to learn the news from a distant relative in Las Vegas.

"I feel that the police department has not done their due diligence to keep us informed," said Jones. "I think that there needs to be some steps or some actions taken place in order to keep families informed. It shouldn't take four days for us to know."

Zeno's sisters are making preparations to bury their only brother, while the person responsible for his death is still on the run.

"We want people to know that he was a good person and he had a family who loved him dearly," said Garrett. "We want the person who did this to be caught. We want them prosecuted, and we want them thrown in jail."

The family said they are offering a $2,000 reward for any information leading to their brother's killer.

The funeral was set for Saturday, March 5.
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