GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Maranyely Santos said she found her 51-year-old father, Wally Delos Santos, lying in a pool of blood in the driveway of his township home on Falling Leaf Court early Thursday.
On Thursday afternoon — after the police vehicles left the quiet cul-de-sac — she stood outside the Santos family home with friends and said she was going to be OK. She said her father knows she is strong, despite how she felt when she found his body just hours before.
Maranyely Santos said her father had returned from Atlantic City at around 2 a.m. Thursday when he was shot in the family’s driveway just feet from their front door.
“My sister was watching an action movie and she heard the shot. She thought it was on the movie and then we realized it was outside,” she said.
“I ran outside and I saw him lying there and I saw the blood and I thought it was coming from his stomach. And I said to myself, ‘He’s good. He’s going to be good.’ I said to him in Spanish, ‘Pa, you got this. You’re going to make it. You’re a strong, big guy.
“But then I turned him over to see how bad it was and I realized the blood was coming from his head. I knew my dad was gone. He was gone,” she said.
Shortly after 2 a.m., Galloway Township police responded to a report of a shooting at the home.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit responded to the scene as well. An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday. No arrests have been made.
“I’m blank. I don’t know what to think. And that’s what I want to know — who would do something like this?” asked Waldy Santos, 22, Santos’ son.
Though Waldy Santos was not at his father’s home at the time of the shooting, he came to the house after he heard the news.
The family emigrated from the Dominican Republic and has lived in Galloway for eight years after moving from Atlantic City, where they lived for 10 years. The deceased owned several businesses in Atlantic City, including Wally’s Barber Shop on Ventnor Avenue.
“He was too nice with people, always trying to help people out. He was always trying to get people out of the street — kids out of the street,” Waldy Santos said. “This is not fair. He’s a guy who helps people. Who would do something like this to him? Shoot him for whatever reason?”
Next-door neighbor Wayne Birts was unloading groceries Thursday afternoon and said he has lived at the home since October, in what he described as a very quiet neighborhood.
“I didn’t hear anything last night, but you wouldn’t expect anything like this to happen here. I’m still in shock,” Birts said.
Detective Sgt. Donna Higbee said an incident like the shooting is uncommon for the area and looks to be an isolated incident. She said no other homes or individuals in the area appear to have been targeted.
Businesses owner Mark Becker and his wife, Deborah, helped serve the Thursday afternoon coffee rush at Barista’s Coffee House on Jimmie Leeds Road as he spoke of the shock he was still in after hearing of Santos’ fatal shooting.
Becker said he is no stranger to violence in otherwise quiet, suburban neighborhoods. He said he lives in Northfield and quite close to April Kauffman’s Linwood home. The local radio talk show host, businesswoman and community volunteer was found shot to death in her bedroom in May. There has not been an arrest made in Kauffman’s killing.
“I was shocked by her murder and completely shocked by what happened here because it is just up the road from my coffee house. A shooting, a murder — well, I haven’t heard of anything like that happening here,” Becker said of Santos’ slaying.
“He’s (Santos) from A.C. and it seems like they came out here and got this guy. They reached in here to get him. Things like that don’t happen around here between people,” Becker said.
The homicide is under investigation by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Galloway Township Police Department. Anyone with information is asked to call the Major Crimes Unit at 609-909-7666 or the Galloway Township Police Department at 609-652-3705.
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