D.C. police said they believe that a Northeast Washington man, whose body was found before dawn Tuesday inside his burning truck, had been fatally shot near his home about a mile away.
Investigators have no motive or suspects in the killing of Reginald Holmes, 40, who had just started a new job as a plumber and who relatives said was appreciated for his kindness, especially to children. Family members said they believe Holmes was shot as he was taking out the trash and that he was getting ready to go to work.
"Nothing about this case makes sense," said Capt. C.V. Morris of the police department's violent crimes branch.
Police provided new details about Holmes's death in a reward flier that was distributed yesterday. They are offering up to $25,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.
Investigators believe that Holmes was shot about 5:15 a.m. in the 1800 block of C Street NE, where he lived in a rowhouse with his girlfriend. Several residents told police they heard gunshots in the area about that time.
Holmes apparently was driven in his own GMC Yukon to the 1200 block of 19th Street NE, where he and his sport-utility vehicle were doused with gasoline. Firefighters, responding to a call reporting the burning SUV, found Holmes in the back seat of the Yukon about 5:50 a.m.
The blaze was confined mostly to the front seat. Holmes, who died at Washington Hospital Center, was not burned, but he was covered in so much gasoline that he had to be decontaminated by firefighters.
Police officials said they do not believe carjacking or robbery was the motive, because Holmes's wallet was not missing and money inside the vehicle had not been taken. They said no one reported hearing gunshots in the 19th Street area.
Relatives were searching for answers yesterday.
"It doesn't make sense," said his sister, Mona Lathen. "Everybody loves Reggie. We don't think he was carjacked, because they tried to burn the car. That is why we don't understand this. . . . We never thought anything like this would happen to him."
Holmes was born in the District and raised in the Brookland area. He graduated from McKinley Technology High School. He was convicted of attempted drug distribution charges in the early 1990s, but he turned his life around and eventually got his plumbing certification, his sister said.
"He made a 360-degree turn," Lathen said. "He cleaned himself up. He didn't curse, drink liquor or smoke."
Holmes held various construction jobs over the years. In August, he started working for Magnolia Plumbing, a 300-employee operation in the District.
His supervisor at Magnolia, Lawrence Bowen, said Holmes was a good worker who could be trusted to complete any task.
"I could tell him what to do, walk away and know he could do it," Bowen said. "There were never any problems with him. He was very nice. His personality was great."
Holmes lived with his girlfriend, but he often hung out with friends and played pool in his old Brookland neighborhood, relatives said. They said he did not have any children of his own but often helped youngsters in need.
Lathen said that on Halloween, she asked her brother if she could borrow some money, but he told her he had only $10 in cash. Later she learned that Holmes had seen a young boy without a costume and had taken the boy to the drugstore and used his last $10 to buy him a costume, Lathen said.
"The children are just crushed," Lathen said.
Police urged anyone with information to call detectives at 202-727-9099 or 202-645-9600.