He dreamed of becoming the next famous rap artist. He was saving money to buy a car. In his 26-year life, what was most apparent about Scott Michael Kraft was how much the Chandler man meant to the East Valley community that continues to mourn his murder a week later, in Gilbert’s quiet Islands development.
“He was an aspiring rapper. He had tons of friends,” said Manny Figueroa, a close friend when the pair attended Chandler High School. Figueroa said he was at a loss for words.
Kraft was shot twice in the back, witnesses said, just before 8 p.m. last Tuesday near Warner and Cooper roads. While walking to work, he ran into three teenagers who had just robbed a 15-year-old boy.
When Kraft turned to run, a backseat passenger in the suspects’ sedan shot and killed Kraft and then robbed him as he lay in the street, said Gilbert Police Lt. Joe Ruet.
Gina Martinez was among the first neighbors to rush to Kraft’s aide, and has since bonded with the family. A registered nurse, Martinez ran out in her pajamas, held Kraft’s hand and treated him until an emergency aide arrived.
“Scott deserved a chance like every other 26-year-old out there,” she said. “These guys need to be caught. This is not acceptable where we live.”
At a community forum Monday night at Mesquite High School, Police Chief Timothy J. Dorn and other high-ranking cops tried to calm jittery residents, many of whom live in the upscale Islands neighborhood near where Kraft was killed.
“We’re rallying the wagons and bringing all the resources we have to bare,” police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Duncan told the estimated 250 people at the meeting.
Residents wanted to know how to spot suspicious activity and whether gangs were involved in the crime. Dorn told the crowd gangs from outside Gilbert were becoming an increasing problem but were not believed to be involved in this. For personal safety, Dorn advised: Trust your instincts and be aware.
The murder is the second this year in Gilbert, following the June killing of a 15-year-old Queen Creek girl by a man who lived in the house where she was staying for a sleepover.
Earlier Monday, neighbors of the shooting scene remembered Kraft from his job at a nearby convenience store, where they said he was always polite and helpful.
“He’s a cool guy,” said Shawn Chase, who joined Sidonie Thompson at a memorial site on the corner of Cancun Drive and Warner Road. “No one can believe it even happened. This is the safest city in Arizona, they say.”
Candles remained lit after a weekend memorial, where flowers, cards and stuffed animals were left by loved ones and friends. Children drew pictures, and three boxes of tissues were strewn among the personal notes, photos and tokens left around a single white cross.
One couple had written on a poster: “Scott, go with God, and fly with the angels. We will miss you.”
Neighbor Jane Bolek said she heard a distant shot last Tuesday, and later was stunned to learn an innocent man had been attacked on a Gilbert street.
“It’s happening everywhere,” she said. “We all have to be on guard.”
Police asked anyone with information to call a tip line for the case at (480) 635-7316 or Silent Witness at (480) 948-6377. Contributions in Kraft’s memory can be made at Desert Schools Federal Credit Union to account No. 922615-04.
Tribune writers Nick Martin and Nicole Birk contributed to this report.