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Vigil grows as friends remember Jose Velez who was shot and killed in his Puyallup barbershop Wednesday

Customers who dropped off flowers at the vigil said Velez was a champion for minorities and helped young entrepreneurs.

PUYALLUP, Wash. — A vigil was held outside of JQ’s Barbershop in Puyallup where the owner of the barbershop, Jose Velez, was killed around 5 p.m. Wednesday. 

Puyallup police are still looking for the suspect in this shooting.

Customers, friends and owners of neighboring businesses came to leave flowers, all of them telling stories of Jose’s kindness.

The barber’s pole turned outside JQ’s Barbershop, but the curtains were closed.

"It's just heart wrenching,” said Shelby McDonald who works for the business right next to the barbershop. 

McDonald brought flowers to remember Jose. 

“He was super helpful when anything went wrong. Being right next door we saw him on a daily basis,” she said.

Customers who came to the storefront to grieve said Velez gave a voice to minority communities and helped young entrepreneurs.

“He was more than a mentor, he was a brother to me,” said Hasune Mawlood. After dozens of rejections, Jose gave Hasune a job at his shop. Hasune was 16 at the time.

“With high school, grades weren’t good. He said 'You can’t work here if your grades aren’t good', so I got my grades up,” said Hasune. 

Now at 19, Hasune owns his own barbershop in Tacoma, he credits his success to Jose.

Jose was a father, husband and the owner of JQ’s Barbershop. He gave haircuts to those who couldn’t afford one. And he spent time mentoring budding barbers like Hasune. 

“He never gave up on me and I never gave up on him. It was a really good friendship, good bond. I loved him, he was like a big brother to me,” said Hasune.

The Puyallup Police Department says a gunman came into Jose’s booth Wednesday evening while he was cutting an 8-year-old boy's hair. The man only described as 5’8’’ and wearing all black, shot and killed Jose.

“At this point we preliminarily believe that there is no threat to the public and that this is an isolated incident,” said Captain Ryan Portmann, who is with the Puyallup Police Department.

Police are asking for area businesses to check their security cameras. The 8-year-old boy and his mother who were there at the time are okay and police are working with them to try and get a description of the shooter.

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