Jake Gerard worked two jobs to pay his way through school and had already completed one year of training toward becoming an auto mechanic, his mother said.
He developed his passion for cars about two years ago, when he began tinkering with a 1963 Buick Riviera, said Stephanie Gerard. The Riviera was in good shape and only had about 20,000 miles on it when Jake Gerard bought it, but he was always looking to make improvements.
Lately, he had talked about replacing the 1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue he usually drove with a new car, possibly a Ford Mustang.
But Gerard, 20, was shot to death early Saturday outside a recording studio in the 2800 block of S. 16th St.
A Germantown resident who grew up in Milwaukee, Gerard was shot in the back just after 3 a.m. while trying to help a friend who was involved in an altercation stemming from a party inside the building, Stephanie Gerard said.
Milwaukee police, who have not officially identified Gerard, said Sunday that he apparently was involved in a conflict at the party and was asked to leave. He left with friends but was then involved in a dispute with a group of men outside, police said.
Gunfire erupted during the confrontation. Gerard was taken to St. Francis Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police said they questioned more than 20 people who were at the party.
Some of those people were still being interviewed as of late Sunday, said Lt. Peter Pierce. No charges have been filed.
Police said the party occurred in space rented from Atlas Bus Sales.
Stephanie Gerard said Sunday night that she was struggling with both her son's death and the way in which it had been portrayed in local media reports.