Louis Stafford, a 27-year-old manager at a Taco Bell in Chesterfield Township, Michigan, was shot dead after trying to help an employee. He was known for his empathy and kindness. His cousin, Zonni Juan, who had helped raise him, described to WXYZ news outlet as a caring individual who was destined to be a great husband and father. Stafford’s compassion extended to his employees, including 24-year-old Dejon Drake of Eastpointe.
Drake, who was living in a tent behind the Taco Bell, was offered a place to stay by Stafford. However, according to Juan, Drake’s behavior became increasingly aggressive after moving in with Stafford at the Aspen Creek Apartments. Despite the growing concerns of his coworkers, Stafford continued to advocate for Drake.
Unfortunately, the situation escalated on July 29 when Stafford asked Drake to leave his apartment. The request led to a violent altercation, which ended with Drake shooting and killing Stafford, according to Chesterfield police records. Drake has since been arrested and is currently being held in Macomb County Jail.
Stafford’s family is mourning the loss of a man they describe as having a big smile and an even bigger heart. His sister, Charlotte Stafford, expressed her grief, saying, “We were thick as thieves. That was really my friend, and I’m so sorry that this happened to him.” A GoFundMe has been set up in Stafford’s name to cover funeral costs and support his girlfriend, who had recently moved in with him.
Stafford’s mother, Leola Stafford, interviewed by Fox 2, remembered her son as a soft-hearted individual who loved cats and was a good friend to everyone. She also issued a warning, urging people to prioritize their safety, even when trying to help others. “You just cannot let your heart overrule your safety – the world has changed,” she said.
Juan hopes that people will learn from Stafford’s story and pay more attention to those struggling with their mental health. She emphasized the importance of taking mental health seriously, saying, “We move on to the next one and the next one until we are desensitized when we have to take our mental health seriously.”