LODI, Calif. - 15-year-old Alan Ruiz Jr. was visiting his family in Lodi over Thanksgiving weekend when police confirmed he was gunned down.
His family described the sensitive and kind football fan as a total sweetheart.
They believe he was killed in a case of mistaken identity.
Candles lit up a memorial downtown Pittsburg on Tuesday night, set up by friends of the Pittsburg High School sophomore.
Family members told KTVU he was shot and killed after 11 p.m. Saturday.
"They should be man enough to say I’m sorry, I did this," Ruiz’s aunt Ada Ruiz said.
Alan Ruiz had been staying with his father, grandmother, and aunt, who all share an apartment, over the holiday weekend.
"Alan was the sweetest kid," Ada Ruiz said. "If he saw a bug being squashed, it broke his heart."
Ada Ruiz tells us her nephew made a phone call Saturday night to tell her that five men showed up to the apartment complex and threatened him.
"Auntie, there’s some guys outside throwing gang slurs saying what colors do I claim," Ada Ruiz recalled. "And he said ‘I’m claiming Jesus.’"
Ada Ruiz has grainy surveillance video of the encounter.
She said the men left and after about an hour went by, Alan went back outside to talk to the girl next door.
Soon after, the men returned.
"All of a sudden you see this kid slowly approaching them," Ada Ruiz said.
The gunman opened fire and shot Alan four times, including in the back of the head.
Alan’s grandmother, Leticia Gomez, heard gunshots and hurried outside.
"I didn’t recognize him right away because he was covered in blood," Gomez said.
Lodi Police described the shooting as targeted and motivated by gang activity.
"He was not interested in gangs," Ada Ruiz said. "He was peaceful. He was all about God."
The heartbroken family, left with the burden of making funeral arrangements, have set up a GoFundMe account.
The boy's father had a simple message for his promising young son’s killer.
"Come forward. Man up. They got the wrong person," Alan Ruiz Sr. said.
Police told KTVU they were working around the clock but had not yet released the identity of the suspects.