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Robert Ramirez

Despite his intimidating size, Robert Ramirez was a teddy bear at heart, according to friends.

"He was gentle, soft-spoken, just a really great guy. A great father," said Jake Torres, one of Ramirez's friends and co-workers at Lumpy's in Salt Lake City.

Ramirez, 26, had a strong affection for comic books, particularly Marvel Comics, as was evidenced by the tattoo on his arm that celebrated the likes of Spider-Man and Wolverine.

"He was a little kid at heart," Torres said.

And like those superheroes, friends say Ramirez not only kept the peace while working security at Lumpy's Downtown, 145 W. Pierpont Ave. (240 South), but he was also willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need.

Late Saturday night rolling into Sunday morning, Ramirez was at a party at a friend's duplex, 369 S. 1300 East. About 1:15 a.m. there was trouble, and instinctively Ramirez went to help.

"Some younger kids came in, crashed the party," said Will Kilgore, one of Ramirez's best friends and a former housemate.

The party-crashers then turned to leave but tried to take a bunch of alcohol with them, according to what some partygoers told Kilgore. Ramirez and others confronted the group and a fight ensued.

"The kids were hotheads and tried to go after Rob. He knocked a few of them out," Kilgore said.

That's when one of the party-crashers went back to his car, grabbed a gun, returned to the party and opened fire on Ramirez, who died a short time later at a local hospital.

"For some punk kid to do that ... he took away a father. They didn't just take some random guy, they took away a lot of peoples' best friend," he said.

Salt Lake police had not released a motive Monday or what they believe happened prior to the shooting.

Information gathered from witnesses led homicide detectives to serve two search warrants in the valley late Sunday afternoon, said Salt Lake police detective Jared Wihongi.

Evidence was collected at each location and four men were arrested: Theophales Kur, 20, for investigation of first-degree felony homicide; Benjamin Calbert, 20, Stany Mputu, 19, and 22-year-old Michael Anthony Rix, all for investigation of second-degree felony homicide.

"We do believe one of the persons arrested was the actual shooter," he said.

Court records show Kur and Calbert have had prior theft and burglary charges while Rix's Utah adult criminal history includes charges of simple assault and criminal mischief.

Ramirez, who was about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 250 pounds, attended West High School and was big into weightlifting, wrestling and football, according to friends. His favorite team was the San Francisco 49ers.

"Rob was a tough kid. He's not going to back down from anybody," Kilgore said.

But if Ramirez could avoid using violence, he usually did.

"He was one of the best guys at talking people out of stuff. One of the best guys you could ever deal with. He was not a hothead. He was never a rude guy," he said. "He was always willing to stand up for the underdog ... stand up for what's right. If something was wrong, he wanted justice," Kilgore said.

Ramirez's other love was his 4-year-old son, Roberto. "His son was the biggest thing in his life," Kilgore said.

To help pay for his funeral costs, Lumpy's Downtown will hold a fundraiser Sunday.

"You don't want to believe it. I'm still in shock about (the shooting)," Kilgore said.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com