Steven Sotloff lived in the neighborhood where I grew up. I went to high school with his sister, Lauren. Steven was two years ahead of us in school. We weren't friends, but I knew who he was.
He had a familiar face. It's likely our paths crossed at some point, either at a high school party or during a game of pick-up basketball at the park a few blocks from his home.
It's strange, but I didn't even realize what house he lived in until just this past weekend. I was at my best friend's house on Sunday and saw a police cruiser parked in the driveway of the neighbor's house. That's the Sotloff's place, my friend told me. It instantly brought the whole awful story — one unfolding in gruesome detail thousands of miles away — home to my neighborhood.
Steven and I grew up in the same town. We both became journalists. We both rooted for the Miami Heat. His digital footprint left behind on the Internet suggests we shared several other hometown passions and had a lot in common. It seems odd to me now that we didn't know each other. In all likelihood, we would have been friends.
When I heard news of the ISIS video, I texted my friend, asking if he heard the news about his neighbor.
"I heard. Happened like an hour ago," he replied. "I saw his dad like 2 hrs ago. Really sad."
I checked social media and found the media circus had begun outside his family's home — a house I have passed hundreds of times without realizing who lived there.
Another of Steven's neighbors and I exchanged tweets. Karl Wiese knew Sotloff when they were growing up. Wiese remembered selling Steven a hamster when they were "like 10."
"Can't believe it was our neighbor," he said. "Prayers go out to the Sotloff family."
I reached out to several people who are close to the family, but it seems that those who knew him best are still too upset and shocked to talk.
Elsewhere on the Internet, former friends and colleagues shared their despair, along with a few anecdotes on how Steven lived his life.
For all of us from the old neighborhood, this is not just another news story from a faraway land. Whether we knew Steven personally, or had seen him around town, he was a part of our lives and community.
May he rest in peace.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.