Friends say teen found shot to death behind restaurant had a bright future

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It is difficult for friends and family of 18-year old Erick Estrada to believe he died outside the restaurant where he worked.

FOX4's Shannon O'Brien spent the day learning more about Estrada from the people who knew him.

Everyone we spoke with today talked about Eric Estrada's smile, his fun nature, and dedicated work ethic.

Estrada was found dead about 10 p.m. Sunday night, shot behind Cascone's restaurant. The question everyone is trying to answer is why.

Chris Waller is the managing partner of the Texas Roadhouse off of Barry Road, and Erick Estrada's former boss.

"He loved grilling. He loved food. His big deal was, he wanted to be a chef," Waller said.

Waller says Estrada started at Texas Roadhouse when they opened in November and was one of his most reliable employees.

"He wanted to know everything he could so if there was something to come up, he would ask a question. If we wanted something changed, definitely he was on it immediately. Always looking for feedback and advice. How can I get better? How can I improve?" Waller recalled.

A senior at North Kansas City High School, Estrada was also attending the Northland Career Center's culinary academy.

"Trying to make this program more fun, more exciting, happy and trying to learn something more," Colton Chester said.

Colton Chester was in the NCC culinary program with Estrada and the two became friends. Besides cooking, Chester says Estrada's other love was photography.

"He liked to explore broken buildings, with his friends. Go take photos he really takes nice photos," Chester said.

"He had a lot of big dreams and he knew with time, effort and hard work, he could accomplish those. I have no doubt within the next five to ten years he could've gotten to that point. I really feel that way," Waller said.

Those big dreams were shattered Sunday night when Estrada was found dead behind Sascone`s restaurant, where Estrada had been working for a couple of weeks.

"I wished him all the best. He took care of us and so I had no hard feelings for anyone leaving. We want people to get bigger and better and that was his chance."

Kansas City police said they are looking for another teen, 17-year-old Sal Lozano, because they were concerned for Lozano's safety in connection to Estrada's murder.

They have since contacted Lozano. He is safe, but police are not giving us any additional information.

Friends have set up a Go Fund Me page for Estrada's funeral expenses.