NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A man found shot outside of a Bellevue apartment complex early Saturday morning has the music community pleading for the public’s help in finding answers.  

Rodrigo Ernesto “Ernie” Aguilar, 60, was known for his music career, including his time playing bass for Sammy Kershaw. Aguilar was also close with “American Idol” contestant Oliver Steele, who made it to the top 8 in the last season. Oliver’s dad, Toby Steele, said Aguilar was like family.

“Ernie never had any kids, so my two kids, Oliver and Savannah, became his kids and he became their Uncle Ernie,” Toby said. 

Aguilar also served as a custodian at Bellevue Middle School, was active in his church, and had other hidden talents. 

“He was a guy that could fix anything. It was always a big joke like, ‘Oh, don’t throw that away, Ernie will fix it,’” Toby said.  

Unfortunately, Aguilar’s life was cut short on Saturday, May 27, when Metro police found him shot to death outside of a Bellevue apartment complex.  

“The loss of his life is staggering, staggering to many of us, especially my kids, my family, and as I’m sitting to you right now on dialysis, this is where I was Friday, the last time I heard his voice. We talked about 35-40 minutes, not knowing this would be the last time I’d ever hear him,” Toby explained.  

Police said security footage showed Aguilar unloading his car around 1:30 a.m. when he appeared to notice something out of the camera’s view and walked toward it. His friends believe he may have seen something suspicious and tried to intervene. Whatever the case, they’re asking anyone with information to come forward.

“I love him dearly and I miss him. I found myself reaching for the phone Saturday night, was going to call him, and it just hit me so hard that he was not there,” Toby said. “Don’t let this be a senseless statistic, please, his life was worth more than that.” 

If you have any information, call Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for Aguilar’s funeral expenses. You can find a link here.