04/28/2012 02:00 AM.
After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan with the US Army, Stephen Perez Jr. came home determined to become a federal law enforcement officer.
But the life of the 22-year-old veteran -- who friends and relatives said served as a sniper during deployments -- was cut short when he was fatally shot in the back early Saturday outside a nightclub in downtown Boston.
“His life [was] stolen from him,” said Rob Marston, 44, on Sunday afternoon inside the Perez family’s brick ranch house on Roland Road in Revere, where an American flag hung out front.
Marston, who is married to the cousin of Perez’s father, Stephen Sr., said police told the family the soldier was shot in the back and then apparently turned around and chased his attacker a short distance before collapsing.
Boston police said in a statement that officers responded to 290 Tremont St. shortly before 2 a.m. and Perez was rushed to Tufts Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
A police spokeswoman said Sunday evening that no arrests had been made and she had no information on what touched off the shooting.
The site of the shooting is near several nightclubs. Family members said Sunday that Perez had been out with friends, though he was not the type of person to start a fight.
A close friend, Jeremiah Goodwin Jr., 22, of East Boston, recalled an incident last spring when Perez came to the aid of a taxi driver who was being assaulted by two men.
Goodwin said in a phone interview that Perez got between the men and the driver and brought the situation under control, preventing anyone from getting seriously hurt.
“He [was] an all-around great guy,” Goodwin said. “He always stuck up for the little guy. He was a caring, loyal friend and he always had a smile on his face.”
Goodwin said Perez wanted to work as a US Marshal and was planning to enroll at Boston University in the fall, transferring from Bunker Hill Community College. Relatives said Perez was a standout student at Bunker Hill and majored in criminology.
Bordonaro said Perez graduated from Revere High School in 2007. Besides his father, she said, Perez also leaves his mother, Kim, and several siblings.
Chris Dotoli, 48, of Melrose, a close friend of Perez’s father, said Sunday at the family home that the elder Perez was too distressed to speak to a reporter.
Dotoli said everyone who knew his friend’s son admired him for his service.
“He was serious about his service to this country,” Dotoli said. “He went and did two tours in two different countries for us ... We all looked up to him.”
Police urge anyone with information about Goodwin’s death to call homicide detectives at 617-343-4470, or the anonymous tipline at 1-800-494-TIPS. Members of the public can also text the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).