overseas Filipinos

$51,000 raised for slain Fil-Am store clerk as community readies for burial

Xenia Tupas
$51,000 raised for slain Fil-Am store clerk as community readies for burial

COMMUNITY SUPPORT. The makeshift memorial for Steven Reyes, the 68-year-old Los Angles store clerk killed on October 6 while trying to stop a store robbery in Highland Park, Los Angeles, shows support for his family's cry for justice.

Xenia Tupas

The family of Steven Reyes will 'push for 'maximum sentences' against the suspects, though at least one is a minor

LOS ANGELES, United States — Candles, messages and photographs of 68-year-old Filipino-American Steven Reyes crowd  a makeshift  memorial beside Tony’s Market in Highland Park, Los Angeles.

The display is a reminder that the community shares the call for justice of the heirs of Reyes, who died on October 6 trying to help a colleague stop a robbery by teenagers.

A Go Fund campaign for the family of Reyes, who was born in Lipa City, raised $51,568 from 982 donors as of October 20, way above the $15,000-target, according to his daughter, Kaycie.

A funeral procession will be held prior to Reyes’ burial at Forest Lawn Glendale on November 2.

The family has forgiven the suspects but will push for justice, Kaycie told Rappler in an interview on October 20.

“We intend to seek justice for my father to the fullest extent of the law where applicable,” she said. “Regardless of age, we are seeking maximum sentences as much as we can for each of those involved.”

The LA Police Department on October 13 reported the arrest of a 13-year-old boy in connection with the robbery-slay. They have withheld the minor’s identity.

The LAPD appealed to the public for assistance that could lead to the arrest of three other suspects – a male and two female teenagers.

The right thing

Reyes, the brother of  Miss Philippines 1972 Eva Reyes, migrated to the United States 40 years ago.

He worked part time as a store clerk in Tony’s Market at the corner of Figueroa and Avenue 40, near the residence he shared with his 90-year-old mother, Leonila.

The four suspects were stealing several items, including a case of beer, when the second clerk, the owner, tried to stop them. 

Reyes, who was at the back of the store, heard the struggle and ran to help his colleague. 

One of the suspects struck him on the head with a scooter outside the establishment. The second clerk then grabbed a pepper spray and pointed at one of the suspects, who left evidence for the police.

“It could have been the store owner himself, had not my dad intervened,“ Kaycie said. 

The Go Fund Me page describes Reyes as one who always tried to ensure the safety of his family and neighbors, helping his mother with kitchen chores and bringing her to appointments.

“He was not a perfect man but he died in this noble way, possible trying to do the right thing, saving someone else’s life,” Kaycie said.

The family’s grief is eased by the many people rallying around them to honor the legacy of her father. 

Aside from Kaycie and Nelle, Steven had two younger children who live in Bicol.

Violence toward Immigrants

“A lot of questions are being asked relative to the type of violence that is really happening toward immigrants, specifically the people who are just trying to do the right thing,“ Kaycie said, referring to an earlier incident.

Tommy Lee, who migrated from South Korea 20 years ago, died from stabbing by teens who robbed his wig shop in the Fashion District in downtown LA in the afternoon of October 1.

Proximity and the similar nature of Tommy and Steven’s deaths sparked the huge outpouring of support, Kaycie said.

A few days ago in Oakland, California, an Uber driver from Nepal was carjacked and robbed at gunpoint by two riders wearing masks and hoodies, a crime captured on camera. – Rappler.com

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