Will Muñoz Become Another Forgotten Victim? 

It’s heartbreaking — the news of the drive-by shooting last Thursday night (Aug. 15) of 25-year-old Omar Muñoz Jr., and the passing on that same day of Pahola Mascorro.  

Mascorro was the mother of 14-year old Eli Rodriguez, a student at the Cesar Chavez ASE Learning Academy in San Fernando who — after leaving school, was tragically swept away during a torrential storm and died in the Pacoima Wash in 2017. Mascorro was undergoing cancer treatment when she lost her son, which made her fight against the disease more difficult.

Mascorro and other family members wanted the local council to move quickly to take action and implement a key safety measure to widen the sidewalk area and the small area over the wash they refer to as the “bridge,” where students walk back and forth to school each day.

Since that time, a lesser plan was approved by the city’s council members and two years later, changes haven’t been made.  

The drive-by shooting of Muñoz, a young father of three, has his family, friends and neighbors asking “Why”?

Muñoz wasn’t a gang member. He was only 25, but held a job to provide for his family and took his responsibilities seriously. He was looking forward to his wedding and building the best life he could with his soon-to-be wife and kids.

The City of San Fernando isn’t immune to tragedy — the truth is, there have been too many tragic events in this town, including the unsolved murder of musician Fred Freak Smith in Las Palmas Park, and an officer-involved fatal shooting at an apartment building that went by pretty much unnoticed.

The police and old bastions of power in this small town continue to describe it as a variety of “Mayberry,” and have gone so far as to claim the city doesn’t have gang or homeless problems.  

But the city does have problems — huge problems when a resident can’t safely walk outside his own home. 

Residents and the city council members who are elected to represent them should be outraged. But the knee-jerk response typically is that the city’s problems are brought in from the neighboring communities of Sylmar and Pacoima, and they aren’t “homegrown.”

Few question that claim and these tragic events when they have occurred and after a few murmurs of “that’s sad,” brush them under the rug and life moves on. 

It’s not so easy to move on for the families whose lives are forever changed. It will impact them every day.    

Every time it rains hard, Eli’s family members worry about the Wash swelling and the kids walking to school. Meanwhile, the Muñoz family will see the spot where Omar was killed right outside their door.   

As funeral services are held for Mascorro and Muñoz, it’s musical chairs again at San Fernando City Hall. Last Monday, City Manager Nick Kimball read a resignation letter sent by Councilmember Antonio Lopez. He wrote: “I leave the City of San Fernando to pursue opportunities for the benefit of my children and family. I wish for continued success and prosperity in the City. Thank you to the residents for allowing me to serve in an active role in the future of my hometown.” The council will either hold a special election or (more likely) appoint someone to complete Lopez’ term. Will the next member just be another complacent seat-warmer who will protect the city, but not its residents?    

What will it take to shake people out of their lethargy and demand an active city council that finds solutions and takes firm action?

Or will you be resigned say “that’s so sad” and move on because the gunfire didn’t hit your family member?

And so the City turns….