YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Joseph Kaluza, who was shot in the neck and paralyzed during a robbery on Youngstown’s south side on March 24, 2008, died on Thursday, according to family members.
A family member said Kaluza was not feeling well Wednesday night and they took him to the hospital Thursday morning. She said he had a “heart event” and died around 4:30 p.m. He was 49.
Kaluza was a manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken on South Avenue and was taking a deposit to the bank when Taran Helms, 22, and his girlfriend, Hattie Gilbert, 20, ambushed him and shot him in the neck. They were convicted in September of 2008 on charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery.Look back: Joseph Kaluza shooting
Prosecutors said at the time that Helms pulled the trigger and Gilbert drove the getaway vehicle. However, the pair planned the robbery for quite some time and even rehearsed it, prosecutors said.
They were sentenced to the maximum prison term of 50 years each. The pair was traced through a statewide database from the license plate on their getaway vehicle.
Kaluza was paralyzed from the neck down and multiple fundraisers were held for the family throughout the years. He spent five months in a Cleveland hospital following the shooting.
In September 2009, ground was broken for a handicap-accessible home for the family on Ivanhoe Avenue. Hundreds of volunteers helped build the home, which was complete in about three months.
The KFC where Kaluza worked closed in October 2011.
His wife, Lisa, died in February of 2013 after suffering a stroke.