Murder Victim: For Steven Ray Cruze, Death was the Price of Avoiding Traffic
Cruze probably hadn't heard about the two previous attacks on victims sleeping on the beach in Santa Monica on September 8 and 10
October 7, 2018
An avid fisherman who sometimes camped outside in Santa Monica to avoid a commute to his home in San Gabriel was murdered as he slept on Thursday morning, September 20.
Steven Ray Cruze Jr, 39, a father of two, decided to sleep under the Santa Monica Pier after a night of fishing, his lifelong hobby according to his family. He planned to wake up and go to his two jobs working on charter fishing boats in Marina del Rey. Instead, he was beaten in the head with a blunt instrument.
Cruze probably hadn't heard about the two previous attacks on victims sleeping on the beach in Santa Monica on September 8 and 10. And if he had, like the law enforcement authorities, he may not have connected those attacks to three others made against homeless men in downtown Los Angeles. Though he was not homeless himself, living with his parents in San Gabriel, he was as vulnerable as the homeless victims of the man authorities now believe murdered two others and attempted to kill four more.
Until Monday, police were not sure that Cruze's murder and the attacks on the homeless men in Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles were connected. However, their apprehension of a suspect after another attack near downtown Santa Monica led to the discovery of the suspected murder weapons, a baseball bat and bolt cutters.
Cruze was discovered by a beach maintenance worker around 6:40 am on Thursday.
He is survived by his parents, his aunt and uncle, and two children, aged 9 and 12. His older son, James, is "so angry," according to Cruze's mother, Debbie. He wants justice for his father.
On a GoFundMe page to collect money for his father's funeral, James turns to the positive emotions he has for his deceased father, writing,
"Hi I'm James. My Daddy was murdered under the Santa Monica Pier 9/20/18 he was the best daddy. He taught me how to fish and told me to be nice to everyone. I want to give my daddy a nice funeral. Thank you, James."
On Saturday, a vigil was held for Cruze in which balloons with messages written on them were released from the Santa Monica Pier. As touching as the vision is, this was probably not the best way to honor Cruze. Balloon plastic is dangerous to the marine life he loved, particularly to sea turtles, who mistake it for food.