DENVER (KKTV) - As he does every workday, Richard "Gene" Hammond, 63, left his home between 3:30 and 4 a.m. Tuesday morning to make the trip down to Falcon for his job as transportation director of District 49. He never showed up. His body was found in his car in an alley less than half a mile from his northeast Denver home. He had been shot in the head and left to die.
The Denver coroner's said Thursday Hammond's death is being investigated as a homicide.
Matt Meister, spokesperson for D-49, said the district is devastated.
"Many us had a pleasure to call him a friend. He was a dear friend of mine, and in addition to a colleague, I value that personal relationship that I had with him ... Many of our employees feel the same way and for that reason, it's just a really deep loss for District 49."
Meister described Hammond as a man of honor and integrity with a warm and gracious heart, a former Marine who once served his country and now served the country's future generations.
"Gene does have a family. He lived in Denver, and so he drove down here to work every day. That's another example of a commitment he had in everything that he did in his life."
Hammond leaves behind three of his own children, two stepchildren and his wife.
"He's an amazing man," said his stepdaughter Haley Gordy. "He always was here for us."
The district says Hammond left a legacy of care throughout the district. Now they are trying to care for the family -- both work and home -- he left behind.
"He had been working on, and advocated locally and at the state level, to be able to have cameras on school buses to be able to be used as evidence when drivers would run the stop signs that buses put out," said Meister. "I mean, that's an evidence to the commitment he had for the safety of children, and so he wasn't able to see that work through but he give it a good start and we'll continue to honor his legacy."
"It just would be nice to have closure and figure out what happened because right now it just sucks and not knowing and waiting," Gordy said.
Hammond's home is located near Bruce Randolph Avenue and York Street in Denver. Police are asking anyone who may have been in the area between 3:30 and 4 Valentine's Day morning and saw something, or anyone else with information, to call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867. Crime Stoppers tips can be made anonymously.
*Editor's note: Authorities originally said Hammond worked in Fountain. We have updated this story to reflect the corrected information.