As Anthony Stubbs walked out of the North Side apartment where he lived, one of his sisters called after him that she had forgotten her cellphone in his car. He replied that he would be back soon.

It was a little past 2 a.m. Friday, and Stubbs had just dropped off his sisters after a night of dancing. Minutes later, bursts of semiautomatic gunfire crackled from the next block over. Worried, they tried to call Stubbs on his cellphone. No answer.

"We were calling, calling, calling, calling," his oldest sister Damika Parker recalled, "and didn't get no answer until the hospital called my sister to say that my brother was shot."

Hours later, Stubbs died at North Memorial Medical Center, becoming the city's 37th homicide victim of the year. The father of two was 23 years old.

On Monday, Parker still was trying to comprehend the loss of her younger brother — "Stubbs" to his friends, but who she still affectionately called by a childhood nickname he could never quite shake: "Annie," short for Anthony.

And, at a time when police say young people are more likely to be victims of violent crime, usually over gang tensions or a perceived insult on social media, she rejected the idea that Stubbs had somehow brought his lethal fate upon himself.

"I have never seen him upset, or be angry, or any of that," Parker, 26, insisted. "He was a people person."

Stubbs, who graduated from Columbia Heights High School and also attended Patrick Henry in north Minneapolis, was gunned down near N. 44th and Fremont avenues, less than a block from his family's apartment in the 1400 block of N. 44th Avenue, police said. A car was seen speeding away from the scene, police said, and three men were arrested.

Parker fondly remembered the younger brother she kept a watchful eye over since their mother moved the family to the Twin Cities from Chicago, when Stubbs was 3.

"My brother was one fly, handsome, outgoing, full-spirited person," she said.

Her sentiments were echoed in dozens of online tributes that flooded Facebook over the weekend, recalling a frenetic, wisecracking youngster who was forever "the life of the party."

"Crazy one day you can be having a whole conversation with someone and the next they're gone :(RIP Ant BD Stubbs you will be missed," one woman wrote on the social media site.

Others remarked about his love for video games, fashion and most of all, cooking, a passion that had inspired him to enroll in a local community college and earn a culinary degree. To cover the costs of tuition, they said, he had taken a part-time job as a security guard at a downtown Minneapolis bank.

"He liked to dance, even though he had no rhythm," said Jasmine Ring, 24, the mother of his two children: 3-year-old Nia and 2-year-old Anthony III. "He tried his hardest to move his little body."

Ring, who says she has epilepsy, said Stubbs had insisted on sleeping at her bedside when she slipped into a coma after giving birth to the couple's son. "He never left me," she recalled.

Friends and relatives acknowledged that he had a few brushes with the law as a teenager, but after the birth of his children had worked hard to straighten his life out — spending more time with his family.

Parker said that on the night of his death, Stubbs had insisted on driving down to Club Monarch in downtown Minneapolis to celebrate their other sister's upcoming birthday. Within minutes of returning home, he was dead.

Police so far have released few other details about the shooting.

But a search warrant application filed Monday revealed that police arrested three men seen speeding away from the scene shortly after neighbors reported hearing 15 to 20 shots. A search of their vehicle turned up a Glock .45 caliber handgun underneath a white cloth in the trunk next to a container of Clorox disposable disinfecting wipes, detectives said.

Department spokeswoman Sgt. Catherine Michal said on Monday that one suspect, a 25-year-old Minneapolis man, was released "pending further investigation, while the other two suspects — a St. Paul man, 23, and a Brooklyn Park man, 25, remained jailed for violating probation for previous offenses.

One man, a member of the Low End-affiliated street crew called the Black T Gang, or BTG, was believed to have been present during the July 16 slaying of Crystal Collins, a single mother of three who was hit and killed by a stray bullet intended for someone else, according to court filings.

The Star Tribune generally doesn't name suspects who haven't been charged with a crime.

Police urged anyone with information about the shooting to text tips to 847411 (TIP411), then enter MPD, a space, followed by the information. Anonymous tips also can be left with police at 612-692-TIPS (8477).

Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.