The father and daughter had gone to a liquor store not far from their house around 10 p.m. Tuesday night. The store was already closed, but they are frequent customers, so the store employee let them in to buy their ice cream. Then tragedy struck on their way home. The walk to buy ice cream at the neighborhood liquor store with their German Shepherd puppy and Chihuahua mix was a ritual for Thomas Cunningham and his 13-year-old daughter.
"The suspect was not happy about that; the daughter grabbed the dog, pulled him away; but then the suspect and victim had some kind of exchange of words but the suspect became upset, pulled out a handgun and shot the victim," Hayward Police Department Lt. Chris Orrey said.
Cunningham's daughter saw everything. She ran back to the liquor store and pounded on the door for help.
The suspect ran away. Cunningham died at a nearby hospital.
Police do not know what was said between the two men, but they say it does not matter.
"Regardless of what was said, there is nothing to indicate this was a self defense case, there are no words that can justify pulling out a gun and shooting somebody, especially in front of their 13-year-old daughter," Orrey said.
Cunningham has shared custody of his daughter. He just divorced within the past year and had plans to leave Hayward and start over.
"They loved to do things together, my sister and my stepdad, they were always together, they were two peas in a pod, she was just like him," Cunningham's stepdaughter Amanda Petray said. "He had big plans to move and get a new house somewhere else and start over again and then this happens and he's never going to have a chance to do that."
The suspect is described as a black male, in his early 20s. He is very slender and was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt with a white logo on the rim of the hood. He is believed to be between 5 feet 4 inches and 6 feet tall -- the wide range because witnesses gave varying descriptions. Even though there were witnesses, investigators believe even more people saw this and hope they come forward to Hayward police.