SAN DIEGO – Loved ones of Eric Carroll-Vargas, the little league coach recently killed in a shooting outside of a local liquor store, held a vigil for him Sunday to remember his life and legacy.
Family members, friends and young players shared what Carroll-Vargas, 26, meant to them, many recalling that he was a person they respected on and off the baseball field.
“Eric had energy. He had a big ole’ smile,” said Jose Lopez, the president of the Sunshine Little League.
Te’veon Williams, one of Carroll-Vargas’ players said, “I would always rely on him on a lot of things. He actually respected me for who I was, what I did, and I did the same.”
“Coach Eric, he meant a lot. Probably one of my favorite coaches, almost like a friend” said another player.
Investigators suspect 33-year-old Ryan Daniel Stewart of shooting Carroll-Vargas on July 17 after the two got into an argument inside Par Liquor in the 5000 block of Federal Boulevard in the Ridgeview-Webster neighborhood. When he walked out of the store, police say Stewart pulled out a handgun and shot him in the head. He died several days later. The reason for their disagreement was not publicly disclosed.
Stewart was arrested last Wednesday and booked into San Diego Central Jail, jail records show. He faces two felony charges, including for first-degree murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
He is due to appear in court next on Aug. 2.
Carroll-Vargas’ death has left a hole in the lives of the ones he loved. Vigil attendees, including his girlfriend Ariana, described him as a dedicated coach and father figure to many of his young players. He leaves behind a 1-year-old daughter with Ariana.
“You guys made him proud after every game,” she said. “Every single game.”
Those who knew him and worked with him say they were “so lucky to have him in our life.”
“He was great,” Lopez said. “He was only 26 years old. He made a different impact.”
Williams added, “I just want to thank him for everything he’s done for me, and my goal is to make him proud.”
The family plans to have a funeral on Aug. 6.
A GoFundMe campaign was launched after Carroll-Vargas’ death to raise money for his young daughter. Donations can be made by clicking or tapping here.