Family and friends are struggling to understand why someone wanted to harm a Baton Rouge man who was found early Sunday lying on a tree stump in his front yard, mortally wounded by a gunshot.

Eddie Simon Jr., 24, was pronounced dead at a hospital after Baton Rouge police found him about 2 a.m. in front of his house on 73rd Avenue, police and family members said. Police suspect that Simon was standing in the yard when an assailant approached him, fired several shots, striking him once in the head, and fled, said Capt. Archie Lee, a Baton Rouge police spokesman.

Simon had lived for several years in Detroit before moving to Baton Rouge, where he lived with and took care of his aunt at the home at 2814 73rd St., family member Rodrick Early said.

“He was always there for the family,” Early said. “For this to take place is totally a shock for us because he didn’t have any enemies. We can’t figure out why.”

Gerald Jackson, 20, Simon’s cousin, said he was inside Simon’s house Sunday when he heard about seven gunshots and went outside. It was so dark, he said, that when he walked to the edge of the yard, he didn’t see his cousin lying on a large tree stump just a few feet away.

Simon was “the closest thing I had to a brother,” Jackson said. “I lost a brother. I feel distraught.”

Though police have yet to release further details on who may have shot Simon, one neighbor who lived across the street said he saw a white sedan back out of the driveway and speed off just moments after the shots were fired. That neighbor, Denis Green, 61, said the sedan came back about five minutes later, and three or four men climbed out and paced around the yard in the dark.

Then they jumped back in the sedan and sped away for good, he said.

“He was a very respectable young man,” Green said of Simon. “That’s why I couldn’t see him getting killed.”

Simon would leave four or five cigarettes on an outdoor table for his 75-year-old neighbor, D.J. Profet, when Simon stopped by and Profet wasn’t home.

“It hit me to my heart,” Profet said when he found out about Simon’s death. “I never knew him to be in no trouble. I couldn’t believe it.”

Anyone with information about the shooting may call Baton Rouge Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit at (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-STOP.

Follow Daniel Bethencourt on Twitter, @_dbethencourt.