MADISON COUNTY, IL (KTVI) -At first, police thought it was a traffic crash: a man on the ground near his motorcycle near Granite City, around 3:43 Sunday morning. It turned out to be a murder scene.
The victim's loved ones said the gunman had no idea of the pain he'd caused.
“Once you met him, you loved him,” Joe Mayes said of the victim, his uncle, Travis Mayes, 43. “Anything you needed he was there for you. If he had $5 in his pocket and you needed it, he’d give it you. If you needed 15, he’d give you the five and go find the other 10 for you.”
He said Travis was more like a brother to him.
Travis Mayes’ friends, Chris McNeish and Steve Simpson, felt the same way.
“He’d do anything for you,” Simpson said.
“That’s how Steve met him, a barbecue at my house. He built [Steve] a bike … a $40,000-$50,000 bike. It was beautiful,” McNeish said.
They speculated the gunman might have shot Travis Mayes in a jealous rage over a woman.
“The old days, you’d just fight and it was over with. Now, young kids always want to pull a gun or shoot,” McNeish said.
They said it appeared the suspect shot Mayes as he was riding.
It happened on Nameoki Road near Harrison Avenue just outside the Granite City, city limits, down the road from Mayes’ house. The fun-loving Mayes was on his way home from work at the Rust Bucket Saloon.
Illinois State Police said a Madison County sheriff’s deputy found Mayes’ motorcycle; Mayes was on the ground next to it; minutes later, police got a 911 call saying Mayes had been shot.
It appears Mayes died from a gunshot wound to the head, police said.
Investigators did not confirm the suspected motive.
“We don’t know all the details yet. I know people have gone through this before but that’s probably one of the worst things: you don’t know – you don’t know,” Joe Mayes said, fighting tears.
Mayes leaves behind a son and daughter and a couple other young people for whom he was a father figure.
“All I know is I’ve got another angel riding with me,” Joe Mayes said.
Police arrested a 22 year old suspect at his home Sunday. He is in custody awaiting formal charges, which will likely come Monday.
A benefit fund for Mayes’ daughter Chandra and son Cody and to help with funeral expenses has been established. Click here for a link.