DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - It's hard for Curtis Johnson to imagine life without his longtime friend Rogelio Hackett. DeKalb County Police said Hackett was shot dead in what initially appeared to be a random robbery early Tuesday morning right in front of The Party Room, the business Hackett opened more than a decade ago after moving to this country from Panama.
"They took one of the good ones. One of those best to ever live. He was one of those guys who would give you everything and welcome everyone. I can't understand why someone would do this," Johnson told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner standing just a few yards away from where his friend was murdered hours earlier.
The gunman took off after the shooting, but detectives said witness interviews and surveillance video of the crime revealed Hackett was, in fact, the gunman's intended target.
"He has never been a victim of a crime or even came close to it, so I just don't understand who would do that to a good person," said Johnson, who met Hackett 15 years ago.
DeKalb County Police responded to the club in the 5400 block of Memorial Drive around 4 a.m. Hackett's body was in the parking lot not far from the entrance to his business. Police said there was an event there the night before, but it's not clear if the gunman attended the event.
Johnson said Hackett normally didn't stay open very late. Loved ones just hope for swift justice.
"It's just so hard to believe someone would do this. He was a father, a grandfather, and uncle and just really popular in the Caribbean community. We just hope someone comes forward to tell police who did this," said Kandace Hackett, the victim's niece.
Anyone with information about the murder of the 53-year-old is asked to call DeKalb County Police.