Authorities and the family of a Compton man who was fatally shot earlier this year appealed Thursday for public help to track down the assailant, who apparently escaped in an older-model Pontiac Grand Prix.

Rodney Donaldson Jr., 28, was gunned down about 8:35 p.m. on Jan. 2 while on a walk in the 500 block of north Kemp Avenue. He died at a hospital.

After graduating from Benedict College in South Carolina, where he played football and earned a business degree, Donaldson moved to Compton to live with and help care for his elderly grandmother and disabled father while working full-time at Los Angeles International Airport.

Joycelyn Donaldson said the family is devastated” by her nephew’s murder, adding that his “parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and all who love him seek swift justice for this crime.”

At a news conference at the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, his aunt described him as “a quiet, peaceful being that was heinously and viciously slaughtered with cruelty and vitriol.”

“He was a productive young man in this society. He was a university graduate, was employed full-time and had plans to continue to advance his life,” she said. “He had no criminal history. His opportunity to achieve all of his dreams have been senselessly taken away. We called Rodney `Champion’ because he was our champion. He set goals for himself and excelled. He was a positive, intelligent, bright light. And we will never forget this, we will never get over this and never forget him.”

Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean said a 2001 to 2004 black Pontiac Grand Prix was seen fleeing the area immediately after the shooting.

No suspect description was released, nor did investigators offer a possible motive for the crime. Dean said some details of the case were being withheld by detectives for investigative purposes.

A $10,000 reward has been offered by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Anyone with information on the crime was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.

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