City police are investigating reports of gunshots around the time and location where a man was stabbed to death early Saturday morning.
Spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken on Monday confirmed the reports of gunfire but declined to elaborate on how, if at all, they’re connected to the killing of 47-year-old Justin Coleman.
Meanwhile, neighbors who knew Coleman called him a nice guy and a good neighbor, and said they were shocked to hear of his killing.
Coleman was found by police on his front steps outside his 63 Elm St. home just after 2:30 a.m. with a single stab wound, McCracken said.
McCracken gave few other details Monday, citing the ongoing investigation.
One of the people who heard the gunshots was Dina Franze, who lives nearby.
She said she was inside her apartment when the sound of shots made her go outside. She said she frequently hears gunshots, but those appeared close.
Once outside, she said she heard Coleman cry for help. Police, she said, were on the scene quickly.
Franze recalled Coleman helping dig out cars after a winter snowfall, coming right out with a plow to help.
“He was caring, always helped you out when you needed it,” she said.
Franze said she believes Elm Street needs more lights at night; the street’s too dark.
Where Coleman died appeared to be out of the line of sight of what is believed to be the nearest city police street surveillance camera, at the intersection of State and Elm streets. Coleman’s address is about a block north of that intersection.
Asked if the cameras were helpful, McCracken only said they’re part of the investigation.
Jim and Judy McGuire also lived near Coleman and remembered him as a quiet and nice guy.
They understood he did work as a DJ and worked late. When Coleman came home, they recalled, he always backed his car into his driveway.
Police on Monday remained at the scene, where the house, driveway and sidewalk were taped off. Investigators could be seen examining a white vehicle that had been backed into the driveway.
On the home’s lawn, behind the police tape, was what appeared to be a bouquet of flowers.
“He was a person you’d say ‘hello’ to and get a smile and a ‘hi’ back,” Judy McGuire said.
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