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Construction worker who died after shooting is mourned as loving grandfather dedicated to job

Elias Flores, 48, with his grandson, Sebastian Flores, 4, on Chesapeake Bay in 2019. Flores, a construction worker, was shot Nov. 18 during a robbery and died Monday. (Family photo)

Elias Flores had three passions.

His grandchildren. Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. Working at the construction company he owned.

The 48-year-old Maryland resident was on the job last week, installing a staircase in a home being rebuilt from top to bottom in Northeast Washington, when a man carrying a gun walked inside.

There were no doors or windows yet, so breaking in took little effort. Flores was on the ground floor; a colleague was on the second floor, on top of the open stairwell.

Flores’s son, basing his account on a conversation with the co-worker who witnessed the shooting, said the gunman shot his father in the head and then took his wallet before fleeing. Flores died at a hospital on Monday. The assailant has not been arrested.

“It’s tragic in the sense that he died doing what he loved — working,” said the son, Luis Flores, a 30-year-old government contractor for Web development who lives in Western Maryland.

Luis Flores said police have told him little of their investigation, and, “as a son, I don’t feel enough is being done” to capture the killer. But, he added, “deep down, I hope and I pray” the police are working hard.

Homicides and shootings in the District have spiked this year, with killings up nearly 20 percent over this time in 2019, the highest in a decade.

Elias Flores’s shooting caught the attention of D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham, who, hours after the attack, mentioned it at a community meeting on crime, highlighting the brazenness of some of this year’s violence. Noting the circumstances, the chief said, “We just can’t have that in our community.”

Tracking D.C.- area homicides

The shooting occurred about 1:50 p.m. on Nov. 18 in the 1600 block of Olive Street NE, a residential area of the Deanwood neighborhood. The house under construction was just beginning to take shape.

Luis Flores said his father was with a co-worker who was on the second floor helping to secure the new staircase. He said the gunman demanded wallets from both his father and the co-worker. He said the co-worker moved a bit and the gunman inched closer to his father and pulled the trigger.

“It’s just a senseless act for this individual to come to his job site and shoot him point blank, and rob him of his belongings,” Luis Flores said. “My dad did not deserve that.”

Elias Flores emigrated from El Salvador about 30 years ago, his son said, married and had two children, both of whom live in Maryland. Between them, they have three children.

“His grandchildren were everything to him,” Luis Flores said of his father.

Aside from work, Elias Flores loved fishing and owned a boat that he would take out on the Chesapeake. Whenever he could, he took his grandchildren with him. The family provided pictures of Flores holding his pole with a fish dangling off the end, and of his grandchildren on boat.

Flores not only loved to catch fish, “he loved frying fish, and he loved eating fish,” his son said.

The day Flores was shot, his wife, Maria, was out of the country, undergoing surgery. Luis Flores said he had a hard time reaching his mother, as his father was dying in a hospital room.

Luis Flores said there was no hope of survival, but his mother, reached after she emerged from surgery, persuaded doctors to keep her husband on life-support so she could return home and be with him when he died.

Maria Flores was to arrive at the hospital on Tuesday to see her husband.

He died Monday morning.

“She never made it to say her final goodbye,” her son said.

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

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