SAN JOSE -- Francisco Lugo Sr. was the sort of man who would "give you the shirt off his back," friends and relatives said, and it was the same good-to-go compassion that likely got him killed.
They said the 59-year-old was bashed in the back of his head as he tried to help out the disabled child of a friend, who was being harassed while heading to his home near Jackson and 12th streets early Saturday morning. Lugo died Tuesday at the hospital, never regaining consciousness. Relatives said he was kept alive so that his organs could be used to save others.
"He was such a helpful person -- he loved helping anyone," said his son Francisco Lugo Jr., 36. "This is a real tragedy for everybody. It's especially hard on the little kids."
The victim, described as a polite and nonviolent man who was unemployed and stayed at the homes of various relatives, had six children, two stepchildren and a host of grandkids and great-grandchildren.
Lugo Jr. said his father had gone to a friend's home in the Luna Park neighborhood, where a group of adults had gathered. His father's friend has a son with a disability, who had previously been beat up by a group of youths in the neighborhood. Lugo and others believe the same group is responsible for what happened Saturday.
Lugo Sr. confronted the accosters, allowing the boy to escape to the safety of the house, said Pastor Fred Mata.
Mata said Lugo Sr. -- whom he described as a father figure to him -- didn't fare so well. What happened next is unclear, but Lugo was either struck in the back of the head or knocked down, his skull striking the ground or other hard object.
Mata said people at the house didn't immediately call authorities, instead eventually phoning relatives to come and get Lugo Sr. When the victim's youngest son arrived he immediately saw something was very wrong but because of the delay, hours had passed before police and medical help arrived around 6:40 a.m.
At a Wednesday night vigil, Mata and family members expressed frustration both with those who were at the home and with police, who they believe aren't aggressively pursuing leads in the homicide. Mata said investigators are treating the matter like a "cold case."
"It is not a cold case, which is a case that is not actively being worked," said San Jose police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer. "This case is still very much actively being investigated."
Dwyer said the motive remains under investigation, and is not believed to be gang-related.
At the vigil, teary-eyed family members -- joined by numerous car club members who arrived in polished vintage lowriders as well as a Christian motorcycle club -- held candles and placards bearing Lugo's image on a short march to the site of the killing.
"The family is hurting," Mata said. "They want answers. They want justice for Frank."
The homicide was the 22nd in San Jose this year, and the sixth in a seven-day stretch that started the previous Sunday, when three people were shot to death.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.