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Holiday season brings grief, unanswered questions for murder victim's family

Posted at 5:52 PM, Dec 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-24 18:28:30-05

CLEVELAND — A Christmas Eve cold case still haunts his friends and loved ones. On this day two years ago, 20-year-old Kameron Westbrook was fatally shot on East 115th Street as he was walking to the corner store. With the investigation reaching an apparent standstill, Westbrook’s parents hope newly-released surveillance video showing the fatal shooting will lead to their son’s killer.

In the early morning hours of Christmas Eve 2017, Westbrook was walking to a nearby store in the 600 block of East 115th Street when several bursts of gunfire tore through the neighborhood. According to police, an unknown vehicle drove by and fired in Westbrook's direction. A friend of Westbrook’s ducked behind a parked car before a hail of bullets hit it. The gunfire also struck a second car and a nearby home. As many as two dozen shots were fired.

The surveillance video showed at least two bursts of gunfire before the suspect vehicle – a light-colored coupe or sedan – enters the frame. Once the vehicle was just mere feet away from Westbrook, someone in the vehicle again fires several shots. Westbrook instantly fell to the pavement and was later pronounced dead at the scene.

“I promise you that I never thought this was going to be my life. Never. Here are I am trying to do everything right, trying to raise my kids right, trying to keep them out of harm’s way. I never thought that this was going to be my new normal,” said Kimberly Jackson, Westbrook’s mother. “Even in the beginning I [asked], ‘God, why my son?’ Now, [I say], ‘why not your son? You’re not exempt.’”

“I don’t know. I definitely didn’t think this was going to be my life.”

Westbrook’s parents, along with others in the neighborhood, believe he was an unintended target of the drive-by shooting, especially considering the two spurts of gunfire that preceded the fatal shots.

For his entire life, Jackson and his biological father, Kenneth Westbrook, tried to shield their son from the oftentimes grim reality of street life. Kameron Westbrook graduated from John Hay and had aspirations of becoming an architect.

“I feel like if it was not time for Kameron, he would not be gone. I don’t know why. I don’t know the reason why. I wrestle with that,” Jackson said. “But I know it was his time to go. I think that’s what keeps me mentally sane.”

In the two years that followed her son’s death, Jackson and her son’s two siblings all got tattoos that matched the one Westbrook had. Additionally, the family planted a magnolia tree in Jackson’s side yard, adorn with green balloons.

Green was Westbrook’s favorite color.

“I miss my son. I miss him. But I hope that I will see him again,” Jackson said.

If you have any information on Kameron’s death, you are urged to contact the Cleveland Division of Police’s homicide unit at 216-623-5464.