Cook fatally shot Sunday

Police don’t know where suspect is
By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Police are looking for suspect Gerardo Ramirez, 37, of Lincoln in connection with a fatal shooting Sunday night at a First Street apartment complex. Lincoln police officers were dispatched to The Oaks at Joiner Ranch apartment complex at 9 p.m. Sunday for a report of a male being shot, according to Lincoln Police Lt. Paul Shelgren. Officers arrived at the scene and found Antonio Morales, 36, fatally shot, according to Shelgren. Shelgren said that the shooting occurred in an upstairs apartment where several children and adults were socializing. The shooting did not take place in Morales’ apartment, who lives in the area, according to Shelgren. “There is nothing to indicate that there would have been any problem. They weren’t dealing with any known conflict,” Shelgren said. There has been difficulty in determining a motive for the fatal shooting, according to Shelgren. “It seems like a social atmosphere that fell over into an argument that resulted in a death,” Shelgren said. The News Messenger asked Shelgren if the shooting was gang-related. “We don’t believe so, at this time,” Shelgren said. “It does not appear that it is.” Shelgren also would not give a possible motive for the fatal shooting. “The officers are investigating, trying to locate the suspect and using the information they have. Based on the information they have, it doesn’t appear to be gang or drug-related.” Ramirez is believed to be driving a blue 1996 Toyota Four-Runner pick-up truck, with the license plate 5BXC720, according to police. “We are trying to get more leads and information, and locate the suspect,” Shelgren said. “It’s information we’ve found through the investigation, checking sources and confirming information. The detectives have interviewed a lot of people and are following up on that information.” Shelgren would not say what else is being done to locate the suspect. “I can’t speculate whether or not he’s in the Lincoln area but we’re following all of our leads,” Shelgren said. “This is a very high priority (for the police department),” Shelgren said. “We’re working around the clock.” Currently working on the case are three detectives, the community services officer, Lt. David Ibarra and Shelgren. The News Messenger asked Shelgren if residents should be scared since the suspect is still on the loose. “Residents should always be aware of their safety,” Shelgren said. “Residents need to be vigilant for their own personal safety, be aware of their surroundings and report anything suspicious.” Ramirez is said to be the suspect because of witness statements, according to Shelgren. The suspect and victim knew one another, Shelgren said. Shelgren said the suspect lives in the same area as the victim but wouldn’t say where, in order to “not hamper the investigation.” Ramirez is employed but it is unknown as to where, according to Shelgren. When asked if Ramirez had been arrested before, Shelgren said the Lincoln Police Department hasn’t “had any criminal contact” with the suspect. This is believed “to be an isolated incident,” according to Shelgren, who said the suspect is “considered to be armed and dangerous at this time.” Ramirez’s whereabouts are unknown, according to Shelgren. Shelgren said this is the first murder in 10 years, which was a stabbing in 2000. Morales was one of the head cooks at Awful Annie’s in downtown Lincoln. “We found out this morning at 7 a.m. when the Lincoln police called,” said Don Baker, co-owner of Awful Annie’s on Monday. “We were told that one of our main cooks was shot and killed last night.” Baker said the victim was employed at Awful Annie’s for five years. The restaurant was closed on Monday, with signs on the door saying the restaurant was closed due to a family emergency” and “to extreme circumstances.” “It’s a big loss and we’re all grieving,” Baker said. “We tried to make it work but it was too sad of a day.” The victim was described by Baker as friendly, and “extremely fast on the grill.” “He was always helpful, going out of his way to help other cooks and employees,” Baker said. “I’m still almost in disbelief; it’s very hard to even think about it.” Heather Deloach, an Awful Annie’s waitress, said “the entire restaurant is in mourning.” “He was a really good guy, and everyone was friends with him,” Deloach said. She was “shocked” to hear about Morales death. Deloach said she liked everything about Morales. “Anything you needed, he would help you with. He was always friendly and always in a good mood,” Deloach said. The Oaks at Joiner Ranch apartment complex residents that The News Messenger spoke with Monday and Tuesday didn’t know either the victim or suspect. Ashley Griffith said she still “feels safe living at the apartments,” in spite of the murder. “I feel perfectly safe here. This is an isolated incident,” Griffith said. “This is one of the safer apartments.” Austin House said he was sleeping when the shooting happened “and chalked it up” to the growth of the city. “The city has been getting bigger, and unfortunately, this is one of the things involved in that,” House said. Anyone with information regarding Sunday’s fatal shooting is asked to call Detective Jason Maschmeyer at 645-4040. Residents may also call 9-1-1 if they see the suspect, according to Shelgren. He said statewide information has been released about the suspect.