MURRAY HILL — A father down on his luck was fatally shot in the chest outside a Murray Hill deli early Wednesday morning, police and family said.
The 39-year-old man, who family identified as Fernando Gonzalez, was walking past the deli at 40-38 162nd St., near Northern Boulevard, just minutes after midnight when the gunman came up and shot him in the chest, an NYPD spokesman said.
Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
The suspect fled and wasn't immediately arrested, police said.
It wasn't immediately clear what sparked the shooting.
Gonzalez, a fan of FC Barcelona, had emigrated from El Salvador when he was 13 and attended Flushing High School, according two cousins who visited the scene Wednesday morning.
Gonzalez had a 10-year-old son whom he rarely saw and once worked construction in Manhattan, but hadn't been working recently, family said.
"When he worked a lot, everything was good. But he wasn't really working now. I talked to him about trying to change," said cousin Yanira Gonzalez, 37.
Gonzalez had recently turned to alcohol, cousins said.
"He used to live under the bridge here. I took him to my house in November. He stayed with me for two months," said another cousin, Orlando Mejicanos, 45.
News of the shooting quickly spread through the family network, relatives said.
"My cousin called me at 1:30 [a.m.] and told me Fernando was shot and in an ambulance. Then he called me later and said he was dead. It's a lot right now. I feel pretty bad. We were cousins, but we were like brothers," Mejicanos said.
The cousins demanded justice for their murdered relative.
"We need anyone with information to help find the person. There are cameras around here. Whoever did this needs to pay," Gonzalez said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story said the victim was shot in the face, based off of an NYPD report. On June 15, 2017, police amended their report to say he was instead shot in the chest.