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Tears for a ‘best friend’

Community: Man mourns loss of friend who was shot while trying to stop robbery in Canyon Country

Posted: November 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Marcelino Ortiz gripped the handles of his wheeled walker as he reflected on time spent recently with his best friend “Alex,” who was shot and killed Monday  while trying to help someone else.

“He was my best friend,” Ortiz said Tuesday, standing with friends in the same dusty, unpaved parking lot on Soledad Canyon Road, near Sierra Highway, where the shooting occurred.

Just last weekend, the man, now dead, sat with Ortiz on cardboard boxes in the wash behind the Food 4 Less store on Soledad Canyon Road, Ortiz said.

“We were over behind the Food 4 Less and he was reading the Bible with us,” Ortiz said, his eyes welling with tears. “I let him read my Bible. We all sat there reading. I let the little boy read it.”

When Ortiz started to cry telling his story Tuesday, friends reached out to touch his arms and shoulders in comfort.

Unable to speak, Ortiz tapped the seat of his walker, pointing to Alex’ phone number of the man he knew as, which was scratched into the vinyl seat.

Authorities on Tuesday had not released the name of either the man killed or the man shot and wounded Monday in the Canyon Country post office shopping center during an apparent robbery.

Detectives said the man known locally as “Alex” grabbed a baseball bat and came to the aid of the man being robbed. He was shot in the chest, and then the robbery victim was shot in the leg by several assailants who took off on foot.

Two juveniles were in custody Tuesday for the shooting, and a third was being sought. The man shot in the leg was expected to survive.

“He liked to help everybody,” one woman in the group of friends said of Alex.

“His son is just a sweetie-pie,” she said. “He would always just take his kid for a walk.”

The same 6-year-old boy was with his father when the man went to the aid of the man confronted by attackers, witnesses said.

“He was a good friend. He was a brother,” said Kevin Monaco, another member of the group. “I’m going to miss him.”

“It’s so sad,” said the second woman in the group.

She and the other friends of the father and son described “Alex” as a married Canyon Country father who lives in an apartment on Sierra Highway, south of Soledad.

Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said detectives interviewed the victim’s son.

“We’re not sure if he actually saw the shooting or heard the shot and ran to where his dad was,” Hernandez said.


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