HOUSTON Friends are offering a $1,000 reward to catch three masked men who robbed a convenience store and killed a long-time customer in northwest Houston.

Loved ones said Markus Holden, 42, belonged on stage telling jokes like he did during a recent family reunion. Now, friends are hurt by where and how he died.

I ve told Markus not to hang out at this store, said Scott Burger, one of the victim s friends.

I just hope and pray they catch who actually did it, said Calvin Curry, who mentored the victim.

Houston police detectives said Holden was inside Super John Food Store when trouble walked through the door. Three masked men held the clerk at gunpoint. They demanded cash. They got it, but also caught Holden s attention. He stepped in.

It don t surprise me because Markus is that type, Burger said. He s that type. If you need help, he s going to help you.

When Holden saw disability slow Burger down, Holden pitched in with yard work and even carried groceries.

(With me) being a stage-4 cancer patient, he just came to me and told me I was his inspiration, Curry said.

Curry said he was helping Holden through personal struggles.

I know he had a drinking problem, Burger said.

Still, detectives said Holden had no problem standing up to armed robbers in the store he loved. However, one shot fired by the suspects ended Holden s life.

The only question I have is: Why? Curry said. If you were robbing and they gave you the possessions, you know, why? So, it was senseless.

So far, detectives have no one in custody. Certified Fire Protection and Latter Day Prayer Band Ministry, the church Holden attended, are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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