Several panhandlers in Houston are using a photo of a stranger killed in a hit-and-run crash last year to elicit donations, misleading drivers by saying the money is to pay for the funeral of a loved one, KHOU reported.
The photo was taken from a Crime Stoppers flyer, and the family of the man killed in the unsolved incident is angry at its use, the television station reported.
"That's very insensitive; that's very disrespectful," Norma Delgado, the victim's niece, told KHOU. "Reaping benefits from somebody that's deceased for your own gain is appalling.”
The panhandlers were using the photo of Miguel Ramirez Sr., a father of five and grandfather of 14, the television station reported. They were spotted by a family friend, who was shocked to see them holding Ramirez’s photograph. Ramirez, 77, died in Houston on Jan. 27, 2018.
"We memorialized him a year ago, last February, and then all of a sudden, it's bringing back all of the hardcore reliving of all of the memories of his death, how it happened, nobody coming forward," Delgado told KHOU.
Andy Kahan, director of victims services for Crime Stoppers of Houston, called the panhandlers’ actions “beyond deplorable.”
"If you see someone out there with a Crime Stoppers flyer, understand they did not have our approval or permission to utilize that to raise any funds," Kahan told the television station.
A spokesman for Harris County Precinct 6 Constable's Office told KHOU they contacted the panhandlers, but they were not using Ramirez’s picture that day. The case remains under investigation, the television station reported.
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