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The grieving family of Christopher D. Cotton is grappling to understand what could have happened to the 42-year-old Buffalo man, after he was found shot to death in his car at an East Side intersection over the weekend.

City homicide detectives are searching for clues in the death of Cotton, who was identified by Buffalo police Sunday as the city’s first homicide victim of 2013.

Cotton was apparently driving the vehicle in which he was found shot early Saturday morning near Kensington Avenue and Castle Place, police said. He was killed shortly after 1 a.m.

Meanwhile, his mother, siblings and extended family are grieving and struggling to comprehend a devastating crime.

“We’re cooperating with the investigators, the detectives on the case. They have some leads, but certainly nothing conclusive,” said James Swiezy, Cotton’s brother-in-law and president of Buffalo real estate management and development firm Greenleaf & Co. Cotton was the youngest brother of Swiezy’s wife, Cheryl.

Swiezy said the family had “no idea” what Cotton was doing at the East Side intersection at that hour but suggested that “he was on his way to meet his girlfriend or some friends.”

“We’re in the dark as much as everybody else as to a very disturbing situation,” Swiezy said. “Our family is very sad. ... He wasn’t a troublemaker. He wasn’t a drug dealer, any of these things you normally associate with this type of situation. That’s what’s so hard. The family is really struggling through this.”

Cotton’s father, Murphy Cotton Jr., who died in April 2010, was a retired general foreman for Eastman Machines in Buffalo. His mother, Doris, is a retired nurse’s aide for BryLin Hospital. Besides Cheryl, his siblings include Pauline Robinson, Murphy Cotton III and Lisa Duncan.

Detectives are tracking Cotton’s last movements and are asking anyone with information to call the department’s confidential TIPCALL line at 847-2255; text a tip to 847-2255; or report a tip online at www.bpdny.org.

Cotton’s murder Saturday came more than three weeks after the city’s last homicide – the final killing of 2012 – which occurred Dec. 27.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com