Jacob Chavez: Aunt says victim in PHX party shooting had 'beautiful heart,' was turning life around

PHOENIX - The family of a man shot and killed over the weekend at a Phoenix house party said the man was turning his life around.

An aunt did not want to reveal her identity during an exclusive interview with ABC15, mainly because police are still looking for the gunman, who allegedly took the life of her nephew, 22-year-old Jacob Chavez, Sunday morning at an apartment complex near 67th Avenue and West Indian School Road.

"(Phoenix PD) are looking for (the suspect), he did have a record," said his aunt. "The police officers told me, his exact words were, Jacob was a hero, Jacob was an innocent bystander."

Read more: Man shot, killed at Phoenix house party

On 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Chavez was hanging out in his apartment with his friends after a night of partying. That's when police say 25 year-old Tomas Andrew Hernandez, showed up on the doorstep.

"Jacob's friend was next to him, and apparently he pushed him out of the way and the guy shot," said his aunt. "Jacob stepped back and took two shots to his chest.

Read more: Suspect sought in deadly shooting in West Phoenix

Records show Chavez served time in prison for aggravated assault, but police have not indicated if there is any connection at this time.

His aunt says he was turning his life around, working part-time jobs, and going to church on a regular basis. Now all she can do is grieve, and worry, about her family's safety, since Chavez leaves behind six children.

"He had a beautiful heart," said his aunt. "We always judge people and don't know the life that he lived. How many times did he open his door? You can only see the outside, but do we know the true inside?"

The family has set up a Wells Fargo account for donations for funeral expenses under the "Jacob Chavez Memorial Account." The family will also be holding a fundraiser this Saturday at the 27th Avenue Bar and Grill in Phoenix from 12 p.m- 6 p.m..

Police are still looking for the suspect and anyone with information is encouraged to contact Silent Witness.

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