The Irondequoit man fatally shot in West Seneca, Saturday was the former stepfather of the man now accused of killing him.
Killed was Robert Todd Echols, 54. Arrested was Rochester resident Andre Lewis, 39. He has been charged with second-degree murder.
Echols' close friend, Kent Kroemer, said an argument started after an AAU basketball game between Echols and his ex-wife, who is the mother of Lewis. Lewis then allegedly shot Echols twice, police say.
"He was literally the kindest gentlest soul you'd ever meet," Kroemer said Monday. "He always had a big smile on his face. That's why everybody loved him."
Echols and his wife, Tammy Stamp-Echols, were regular churchgoers at Pentecostal Memorial Baptist Church in Rochester, where Echols was a deacon, Kroemer said.
Echols was shot "in the entrance to the Niagara Frontier Sports Complex" after the game had ended, West Seneca police said. West Seneca is a Buffalo suburb.
The game was between two AAU girls teams from the Rochester area, the WNY Shock and the Bobcats, whose rosters feature mostly junior-high aged players. Police and witnesses, however, said nothing that happened in the game played a role in the shooting. Echols’ daughter, Terah, plays on the Bobcats, who won.
“As long as I don’t think about what could have happened, I’m fine,” first-year Shock coach Alan Regan said when asked if he was traumatized by the shooting. “It could have gone south quickly.”
He’d just wrapped up a brief post-game chat with his 13 players when shots were fired. The girls were walking down stairs toward the lobby, where the altercation happened, and immediately scurried back up.
“We were able to get the girls back upstairs quickly, get them under tables and in the furthest part of the building and hope it wasn’t an active (shooter) situation,” said Regan, 53, who has coached in Rush-Henrietta’s girls high school program for several years, including the last two as head coach.
Two of his players who’d already reached their parents in the lobby happened to be near doors and exited as soon as the melee interrupted.
Echols himself played basketball at East High School and Monroe Community College, Kroemer said. His son, Robert "T.J." Echols Jr., was a two-time All-Greater Rochester player while at Greece Arcadia High School.