A 23-year-old upstate New York native who moved to Washington, DC to volunteer for an organization that helps high school students was shot and killed during an attempted robbery in the nation’s capital last week, police and loved ones said.
Recent college graduate Ryan Realbuto was fatally shot Thursday around 10 p.m. when an armed suspect demanded money as he and two friends walked home from a youth gathering at a church, according to family.
“While they were walking, a car pulled up, the men asked for money, one person got out of the car, and when no one produced any cash, the person shot Ryan,” his aunt wrote in a verified GoFundMe page.
Realbuto was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, Metro DC police said.
“Ryan was very passionate about doing any sort of community service,” his aunt wrote.
“He was not motivated by making large sums of money, but instead thrived being able to help people in need,” she said. “Ryan had a gentle soul and was a kind human being filled with nothing but innocence.”
The victim hailed from the village of Pittsfield, a Rochester suburb, and was a 2023 graduate of St. Bonaventure University. He had been in DC for six months and was working with the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps.
He volunteered at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, based in Maryland, where he helped at-risk students in a work-study program, his family said.
Realbuto and other volunteers receive a small monthly stipend each month while living in communal housing, his family said.
“It’s like a nightmare you can’t even imagine,” his mother Janet Realbuto, 62, told the Washington Post.
“I am so praying they find whoever did this. He was the most gentle, kindest, caring person. For someone to just walk up and pull a gun on him for no reason is beyond my world.”
Police are offering $25,000 for anyone who can provide information about the case that leads to an arrest.
Washington has been besieged with surging crime with homicides up 35% and robbery up 67% between 2022 and 2023, according to police data.
The volunteer corps’ program director, Margaret McIntyre-Stacy, said the gunman didn’t take anything from Realbuto or his friends.
“They didn’t take anything of value, except the most valuable thing,” she noted.