More than 200 people gathered Monday night at a vigil at Gardenside Park in temperatures well below freezing to remember Lafayette graduate Caleb Hallett.
Hallett’s friends and family hugged one another, cried and laughed as they spoke of the 18-year-old who was shot and killed early Saturday.
His younger brother Bryson Hallett said Caleb never met a stranger. He loved everyone, and everyone loved him.
“I never saw him mad, never saw him sad, always smiling,” Bryson Hallett said. “He was the best man I ever knew.”
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
People were still arriving at the vigil long after all of the 240 available candles had been passed out. Despite the cold, Caleb Hallett’s friends and family stayed at the park for more than hour and a half telling stories and remembering him.
The friends who witnessed him die are trying to make sense of the shooting that happened within feet of their apartment door.
Hallett was an “unofficial roommate” who hung out at the apartment on University Avenue almost every day when he wasn’t at work.
The night of Hallett’s death, friends said, he was preparing to take another friend, Josh Baker, home about 3 a.m. when Hallett stopped his car in the gravel parking lot next to the apartment to grab something.
Noah Buckman, 17, was watching from his open bedroom window and asked Hallett if he was all right. Hallett told Buckman he would be right back, so Buckman went back to watching TV.
“A minute later, I hear five shots,” Buckman said.
He and others in the apartment said they heard Baker screaming for help and ran the few feet to the lot that runs behind several buildings and houses.
Neighbors called the police, Buckman said. He and friends said they watched paramedics attempt to resuscitate Hallett and tend to Baker. Hallett was taken to UK Chanlder Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“They kept doing CPR again and again and again,” Buckman said.
The shooting suspects are two white males who were wearing masks, police said Saturday. But police have refused repeatedly since then to release details about the crime.
It’s unclear if robbery was involved, but Baker told some of the friends that his phone was stolen and that he was shot in the arm. Baker could not be reached for comment.
Two men with ski masks robbed three people in their car at Morgan Avenue and Oak Hill Drive about 90 minutes earlier, WKYT reported. One of the robbers reportedly fired a shot in the air before running off on foot.
Hallett’s friends say it’s hard to pull into the parking lot where he was killed and see his empty chair in a music studio he set up in a bedroom.
In addition to coping with Hallett’s loss, those living on University Avenue feel unsafe in their homes.
Monday afternoon, maintenance workers were at the apartment building adding motion lights and making repairs.
Before the repairs, the roommates said the door didn’t shut all the way. A window on the ground floor wasn’t secure. The parking lot was dark at night.
Buckman said he gets uneasy when there are unfamiliar cars in the parking lot. He said he’s already called the police about someone who looked suspicious.
“I’ve never felt this before,” Buckman said. “It’s shocking.”
Hallett had used money he’d saved working at T.J. Maxx to soundproof a closet and buy equipment to produce rap music for the group called L.T.O. that the friends formed.
David Lee, 18, said Hallett was passionate about music and wanted to devote as much time as he could to producing and mixing songs.
At the vigil, Bryson Hallett said his brother was always pushing himself, the group and everyone he knew to go after their dreams.
“He started so many things,” he said. “And we’re going to finish them.”