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Best friend remembers South Bend shooting victim

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Tolies Word of South Bend, a father of four, was killed in a shooting Saturday morning. His best friend spoke with ABC57 to honor him.

“He had been a present person and a good person since the day that I met him,” said Darnell Nelson.

Nelson and Word had been best friends since they met at Dickinson Middle School years ago.

But an overnight shooting outside the old ‘Elva’s Fiesta Club’ on West Indiana Avenue, just before 1:15 a.m. Saturday, brought that friendship to an unexpected end.

“I was in my room yesterday and I heard a guy yell, like ‘open the door,’” said Hannah Northrop, who lives near the crime scene. “So I looked out my window and I heard the gunshots.”

Police were called to the club Saturday morning and found Word’s body after he had been shot.

A second man was taken to the hospital with injuries, but was released by late morning.

It’s not clear what was happening at the old building, but neighbors said the club had recently reopened and a party was going on when the shooting started.

Nelson wasn’t there at the time, but he got a call and spent the rest of his Saturday struggling to make sense of it all.

“I want him to be remembered as, like I said, a good man, a good father,” Nelson said. “Someone who never judged anybody. He never had no hatred. He wasn’t a hated person. Nobody even hated him! It’s so confusing of what happened tonight cause he didn’t bother anybody.”

Nelson said Word was a 35-year-old married father of four kids under the age of 17.

He owned a landscaping business and was preparing for the snow to come.

Nelson said his best friend rarely went out; he said Word had only gone to the club after being called to address a situation.

“I just miss him so much,” Nelson said. “And I don’t understand – it hurts so bad that he is gone. I thought that we would always grow old together and see the kids graduate high school. And just to know that he’s not going to do that – be here for that, I just know that one day I’ll see him again and that’s what I got to hold close to my heart. And I just thank God for that. And I just want justice for him.”

St. Joseph County Metro Homicide spent the day collecting evidence on scene.

In a press release, they said numerous people were inside the club when the shooting happened.

Metro Homicide has interviewed several witnesses, but as of Saturday afternoon, no arrests have been made.

If you know anything about Saturday’s shooting, you are asked to call Metro Homicide at 574-235-5009 or Crime Stoppers at 574-288-STOP.

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