Family grieves after BR man, 22, killed

On a gloomy Friday afternoon, Austin Stewart was feeling under the weather.

When his mother found out her son was feeling ill — hours before his violent death — she decided to pay her 22-year-old son a visit, offering him traditional motherly remedies such as juice and a cup of soup. But he declined the offer, telling her he just needed to move around some before he left to go pick up his cousin.

“I’ll see you when I get back home,” he told her.

Before the sun set Friday, Austin Stewart’s body was found inside his car in the 1100 block of Swart Street, which sits nearly underneath a portion of Interstate 10 in Old South Baton Rouge. No bullet holes were found in the black Chevrolet Malibu, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge Police spokesman.

“It appears he was shot outside the vehicle then attempted to get in after,” McKneely said.

Police did not release any other details about the killing, which left a close-knit family grieving the loss of a young Baton Rouge man his family said was loved by many.

Although court records show Stewart served a few months in jail on several occasions for misdemeanor thefts and one first-offense marijuana possession, family members said Saturday that Stewart recently had changed his ways.

“He had a past,” said his mother, Felecia Stewart. “But he turned his life around.”

When he wasn’t lifting weights or working at the McDonald’s on Government Street, Austin Stewart usually was spending time with his family, his mother said.

He would often pick up younger relatives from school. And when his grandmother, with whom he lived, was hospitalized with complications from cirrhosis of the liver, Austin Stewart offered to take over her car note and car insurance payments, she said.

“He never disrespected me,” said the grandmother, Elizabeth Stewart, who was among at least a dozen family members gathered at Felecia Stewart’s Carolina Street home Saturday afternoon.

Both women described Austin Stewart as a sweet, humble person.

Both women also said they wanted justice to come from his death.

“I just feel empty,” the grandmother said. “… He’s gone now. He’s gone. And all we got left are memories.”

Follow Ben Wallace on Twitter @_BenWallace.