Carrying candles and signs, a solemn group of family, friends and complete strangers gathered Thursday for a vigil march in remembrance of 17-year-old Alexis Mendoza Raymundo and to demand justice for his murder in Santa Mary last week.
The emotional rally drew around 80 people for ‘A March for Alexis’, which started in the downtown parking lot of Santa Maria West and ended in a city-owned parking lot across the street. .
The shooting happened shortly before midnight on February 4 and fatally injured the 17-year-old who was hanging out with a group of other vehicle enthusiasts. A 24-year-old woman also suffered significant but non-life-threatening injuries in the incident.
Santa Maria police had not announced any arrests in the case Thursday.
In the parking lot on Thursday night, several lit candles, positioned in the shape of a cross, joined a flag, balloons, signs and more to make up the memorial as people formed a semi-circle in front of the site.
Her parents added candles to the memorial and gathered for a family hug minus one member – Alexis.
Friends of Alexis Mendoza Raymundo carry candles and various signs in remembrance of their friend, who was fatally injured in a shooting last week in Santa Maria. (Photo by Janene Scully/Noozhawk)
Loud sobs filled the parking structure, and others wept at the loss of the teenager who friends say loved his truck, his siblings and joked around.
On the white cement, letters spelled out “RIP Cheeks”, a family nickname for the boy.
“Why do our kids have to go out and feel like it’s not safe? And if it’s not safe, they should make us feel safe,” said speaker Chasity Lavata’i.
Teenagers should be able to have fun without fear of violence and the constant feeling of being in danger, according to Lavata’i.
The crowd also demanded “Justice for Alexis”, shouting the phrase repeatedly.
Community action organized the event, which took place the day before the teenager’s funeral.
Executive director Rebekah Spicuglia, the mother of 2015 homicide victim Oscar Joaquin, wore a shirt that read “Oscar’s Mom.”
“Alexis should always be here with us. Her family should not be grieving alone, and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she said.
About 80 people attend a vigil march for Alexis Mendoza Raymundo, who was fatally injured last week in a shooting that injured another person in Santa Maria. (Photo by Janene Scully/Noozhawk)
Pati Cantu, Chairman of the Board of One Community Action, added that it was important to recognize the loss of another young life to violence.
“Another mother is going to bury her son because of gun violence,” she said. “Someone has to do something.
“I don’t think it’s a problem of youth violence. I think it’s violence in the community, and young people reflect what they see. We need to change that.”
A GoFundMe page for the family can be found by clicking here.
Anyone with information about the shooting can call Santa Maria Police Detective Seth Hall at 805.928.3781 x1308.