By Craig Day, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A vigil is being held Friday night for a Rib Crib employee who was killed on the job.
Tulsa Police say three gunmen followed Howard 'Bud' Stoddard through the back door of a Midtown Rib Crib where he worked for eight years, near 16th and Harvard, just after closing time Thursday night.
That location, the first Rib Crib, is closed indefinitely.
For dozens of friends, family and coworkers at the special memorial vigil outside the restaurant, or those who gathered at his home throughout the day, each one was impacted by Stoddard in some way. They're releasing balloons in his honor and and sharing stories. Through the tears, they say he's a man who touched many lives.
"This is a superhero, this guy, he is everything. You can't define anybody better than that," said Tom Waits, a friend of Stoddard.
Friends and family say Stoddard was a gentle giant of a man, a little league baseball and basketball coach. Stoddard was a devoted husband, father of eight and grandfather of eleven.
Investigators say he had just taken out the trash at the Rib Crib when three men followed him in through the back door, shot him and robbed two others.
"He was stout as a bull, but just as kind a person as you'd ever want to be around," said Waits.
Waits was a friend of Stoddard, and a customer at L & S Specialty in West Tulsa, a clutch rebuilding business where he worked for the past 20 years.
"It's kind of cliché that when people leave unexpectedly you say a lot of good things about them, but in this case, they're true," said Waits.
Waits says Stoddard was everything people say he was, but much, much more -- a man who will be missed by so many.
"I think it's sad. That we have come to a point where we have young people that are so freely taking life," said Waits.
Rib Crib has set up a memorial fund at F&M Bank in Stoddard's name to help his family. The company is providing grief counseling for his co-workers.
The restaurant will be closed at least until Monday.
Funeral services are still pending for Stoddard.
Three young men are in the Tulsa County jail in connection with the murder -- Isaiah Peevey, D'Andre Finnie and Deonte Marshall. Each is being held without bond on first-degree murder complaints.