Friends of a 29-year-old man who was shot and killed while allegedly burglarizing a Long Beach home gathered for a vigil Monday night as they tried to come to grips with his death.
More than 90 friends of Ryan Anderson gathered at Hole Mole, a popular Mexican eatery on Almond Avenue and Fourth Street where, for some, it was the last place they'd seen him before he was fatally shot on Sunday.
Long Beach police say Anderson climbed over a wall and broke a window to enter the home at the corner of 3rd Street and Gladys Avenue, about half a mile from his home.
The homeowner confronted Anderson and shot him at about 3 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene by fire paramedics.
Police said Anderson had stolen items in his possession when they found his body.
But despite a recent rash of break-ins in the area, police told residents they didn't believe Anderson was tied to any of them.
"None of us can understand or fathom why he would attempt to break into a house to steal," said Jay Diebel, 29, a close friend. "I think the only way people can make any sense of this is by believing that he was there by mistake."
Police investigators have requested a toxicology report to determine if Anderson was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
Taylor Bro, 33, said he became close friends with Anderson when he moved from Seattle to Long Beach about five years ago.
He described Anderson as a talented artist, a photographer, videographer and a musician. He also liked to build things.
Wiping tears from his eyes, Bro said Anderson had recently built a picnic table for his girlfriend.
"It took him a while to build it," Bro said with a chuckle. "He was just the greatest guy."
Bro added that he had been in touch with Anderson's mother, who he said was "inconsolable."
From the restaurant, the crowd quietly marched along Fourth Street, holding candles, flowers and blue balloons.
The march made a short stop at the house where Anderson had been shot to death.
At the single-story home, the crowd observed a moment of silence and then released several of the balloons in honor of Anderson.
Nearby, residents stood around and watched. Earlier in the day, they had expressed mixed reactions to the shooting.
"I think it's sad it had to come to that, to a shooting," said James Farren, 36. "But you have to protect your family and possessions."
"I'm not surprised he reacted the way he did," said Mayra Laureano, 48. "If he was under the belief that this was a home invasion, then he was justified."
Friends said the march was strictly to mourn the loss of Anderson, who they described as a pacifist.
Sgt. Megan Zabel, a Long Beach police spokeswoman, said homicide investigators have spoken to the two adult residents of the home, and there is "no indication of intent" on their part.
Long Beach police have not released further information about the residents or the type of gun that was used.
The shooting, however, marks the second time that an intruder has been shot by a homeowner in Long Beach.
In July, a resident shot a 28-year-old woman, Andrea Miller, who broke into his home with a man. Miller's accomplice, Gus Adams, was charged with murder in connection with her death. Adams' mother, Ruby Adams, has also been charged in the case.