INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Curtis Wooden would have turned 58 on Wednesday.
Loved ones — and an Indianapolis detective — gathered for a bittersweet birthday celebration at the east side apartment complex where he was killed December 29, 2016.
The case remained unsolved after nearly three years, authorities said.
Wooden was shot while driving at his apartment complex in the 7600 block of Little John Drive, near East 21st Street and I-465, according to police.
Detectives found him slumped behind the wheel of his Chevy Malibu after he crashed into a tree.
He had been driving to a gas station to buy a lottery ticket when he was gunned down steps from his home, his widow told News 8.
“It’s like it happened yesterday,” Latricia Magee-Wooden said. “I heard this shot that was real loud and I grabbed my chest because I felt like it was in my chest. That’s how close it was to me. I jumped and fell to the floor.”
She crawled to her phone and called her husband, planning to warn him about gunfire in their parking lot.
Her heart shattered, she said, when she learned he had been the lone victim.
“I miss everything about him,” Magee-Wooden told News 8. “He was just a good guy. He never met a single person that didn’t want to talk to him or get to know him.”
Wooden did not appear to have any known enemies, police confirmed.
Motive for the shooting remained unclear. Wooden may not have been the intended target, authorities said.
“What is clear is that Curtis Wooden was a decent man,” said Brian Schemenaur, a detective with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD). “There wasn’t any kind of evidence that… [the shooter] was anyone known to him.”
Schemenaur, the lead investigator on the case in 2016, returned Wednesday night to the scene of the shooting to attend Wooden’s birthday vigil.
Friends and relatives tied star-shaped birthday balloons to the tree where Wooden wrecked his car, and gathered to pray for peace and closure.
“Come forward, even if it was just an accident,” Magee-Wooden said, addressing the shooter. “You hurt a lot of people. You hurt communities. This stuff is going on every day and it’s sickening.”
She and Wooden were married for two and a half years but had known each other since meeting at a Pendleton Pike car wash in 2002.
“You’re going to be my husband,” she recalled telling him the day they met.
During one of their first dates in 2002, the two bought a lottery ticket with several winning numbers.
Playing the lottery became “[their] thing,” Magee-Wooden said, reciting the numbers her husband planned to pick the night he was shot.
Perhaps luck would lead to an arrest in the case, if not a jackpot, she told News 8.
Anybody with information about the shooting death of Curtis Wooden is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.
Information leading to felony arrests could earn callers cash rewards of up to $1,000.