Family of elderly man beaten to death at an East Cleveland AutoZone speaks out

Family of elderly man beaten to death at an East Cleveland AutoZone speaks out

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - East Cleveland police are still searching for the two men accused of beating an elderly veteran to death at an AutoZone earlier this week.

“My daddy was 70,” said LaTonya Craddock, the victim’s daughter. “He was sick. He had COPD, you wanna know what type of father he was or person he was? That if he would’ve saw somebody getting beat by two men, even if his sick stage he would’ve jumped in. That’s what type of person my father was.”

70-year-old Leonard Craddock was a father, a grandfather, and a great grandfather. He was a navy veteran and an east Cleveland native. He loved sports and playing cards.

“The last time I saw my father it was here, and we was playing cards and he was sitting on the porch,” recalled Rayshawn Craddock, the victim’s youngest son. “He was talking to my wife and he told my wife, he said, ‘my son did good.’ So we played a card game that day, and we had fun. I didn’t think that was gonna be the last time I seen my father, man.”

The elderly man was beaten to death at the AutoZone on Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland on April 14th in the middle of the afternoon. His family reached out to 19 News wanting the world to know what made him special.

“And y’all had witnesses, but nobody stopped and helped my daddy,” LaTonya said. “To the world, he’s just another 70-year-old Black man that got killed, but to me, he was my everything. They took something from me that I can’t never get back. He was my daddy. He was Leonard Craddock to ya’ll, but he was my daddy and they took him.”

The family says they don’t know why their father was at the AutoZone in the first place since he doesn’t have a car. They also don’t know if he knew the woman involved. Police say witnesses told them Craddock stole money from the woman, but his children say their father would never do that. They believe surveillance video from AutoZone will prove that.

“That’s not of his character, and it’s gonna be proven because what’s gonna happen is due to this 21st century that we live in technology so once the cameras get rolling, we gonna see what happened,” said Rayshawn.

Police arrested the woman involved, Tiffany Gardner. Police believe Gardner got on the phone after having an argument with Craddock and called the two men to the AutoZone. Their motive is unclear but police wouldn’t rule out revenge. Those men are still on the loose.

“I thought COPD was gonna kill my father,” said LaTonya. “I never thought people would kill them. Do you know how much hate you have to have in you to beat somebody to death? To watch them take they last breath? Do you know how much hate that is?”

“I think the most difficult part I think for more is the fact that I wasn’t there to protect my father at that time,” said Maurice Craddock, the victim’s son.

East Cleveland police are asking for your help in locating these two men. If you have any information you can call the East Cleveland Police Department at 216-451-1234 or contact the Cuyahoga County Crime Stoppers 216-252-7463. Either way, your call can remain anonymous.

Watch Craddock’s family speak with 19 News Reporter Kelly Kennedy in the video below.

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