AUSTIN (KXAN) — About a month before police found Ishmael Mohammed, known as “Junior,” caseworkers with Family Eldercare say he was forced to live on the streets.
Police say they first found Junior unconscious at a bus stop near Rundberg Lane and North Lamar Blvd on April 8. Three days later, Junior died. His death was ruled a homicide.
Nikolas Ray Eller, 38, has been identified as a possible suspect in the case and is currently in Travis County Jail on unrelated charges.
Shontell Gauthier, money management director at Family Eldercare, says she believes his death could have been prevented.
“If there was affordable housing for him then he would’ve been able to have his own place and live without having any rent to pay,” Gauthier says.
She says a safe environment instead of the streets may have protected him the night he was hurt.
“A city park bench [was] where he spent most of his time, so it’s unfortunate,” Gauthier said.
Junior was so popular on the UT campus they made a documentary about him.
In 2005, he broke a world record for most sales at a fast food joint in 30 minutes. By 2014, Junior was left on the streets with no work or money, until a UT student recognized him and started a fundraising page.
Through Family Eldercare’s money management program, they were able to take his donation of over $24,000 and use it to help him any way they could. The money ran out in February, just one month before he died.
“We provided services to Junior for two years. He came to us homeless,” Gauthier says. “He was forced back on the streets because we ran out of funding.”
She believes more funding for all homeless people living in Austin can help prevent another death like Junior’s.
“It knots up your stomach when you think about this, but it’s very common in our community and the homeless issues that we’re facing. Junior was very loved but there’s many, many others just like him,” Gauthier said.
Police are still asking for your help. If you have seen anything or know anything about this crime, you’re asked to call Austin police.
If you’d like to know more about how you can help the homeless community in Austin, visit Family Eldercare’s website.