There are two makeshift altars located just a few feet away at the corner of Glenoaks Boulevard and Polk Street in Sylmar. One is right in front of the Sylmar Library; the other, just steps to the side before a chain link fence in front of a Department of Water and Power substation.
They mark the spots where two men were killed on Oct. 27, during a celebration of the Dodgers’ first World Series championship since 1988. Juan Carlos Guillen, 22, and Marco Antonio Vazquez, 30, were fatally shot in the midst of a street takeover at the corner.
Los Angeles Police Department Detective Edwin Ayala told the media that while some people performed “doughnuts” with their cars in the middle of the intersection as smiles and cheers went all around, some people began smashing car windows with baseball bats.
“At some point there was an altercation between certain individuals that we believe, from the information that we have, started vandalizing vehicles. They were confronted by the group to defend the vehicle owners,” Ayala said.
“They were just trying to be good people and help others,” he added.
Video of the attack shows a group of people running and the sound of gun shots. Then you can see someone lying on the ground.
“Hey Juan wake up” several voices are heard saying before he is put in the back of a truck.
Guillen and Vazquez both died at the hospital from their injuries.
The victims’ families are now raising funds to help with funeral expenses.
Indica Santiago created the GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/f/26h1g1jeao) account in honor of Vazquez, noting that he was a father of six kids and he had recently returned to Southern California to watch his beloved Dodgers win the World Series.
“His heart was always filled with joy, always seeking to help others out in need,” Santiago said. “Unfortunately, he passed away due to a tragic incident. He was a victim to a shooting that occurred while he was trying to stop two thieves breaking into a car.”
Santiago said on the post that the police are investigating but, “we don’t have the sufficient funds to cover the funeral costs. Please feel free to donate anything you can. In loving Memory of Marco Vasquez (sic).”
Violeta Chavez, created the GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/f/carlos-guillen-funeral-expenses) account for Guillen. She says in the posted message there that “My youngest brother in law had just turned 22 when he unexpectedly lost his life. I am creating this account to assist my husband and his family with the funeral expenses. I know we are going through hard times but anything helps. Please keep our family in your prayers as it is much needed.”
“Those of you who met him knew he was a very sweet, courteous, thoughtful and harmless young man. He meant no harm and lost his life doing what he thought was the right thing. Unfortunately, there is a lot of heartless individuals out there. He was so young and to think he was in the wrong place at the wrong time is such a nightmare. Thanks in advance.”
Other people who knew Guillen also spoke of his good nature and popularity.
Two teachers at Assurance Learning Academy in Pacoima, where Guillen finished high school, were present recently at the makeshift altar in his honor in Sylmar and reflected on the former student.
“He was the star of the school. He meant a lot to the people there,” said Armando Cardenas. “He was a great person, very creative, strong and very charismatic.”
“He was a firecracker, a funny kid,” added Veronica Gaffney. “He had a big smile. It’s heartbreaking.”
“It’s awful,” added Cardenas, who said he was not surprised to hear Guillen had died while trying to help others. “He was doing what he thought was the right thing, but unfortunately someone didn’t like it.”
The youngest of his siblings, Guillen had recently announced he had just enrolled in college.
Despite some 40 people present at the celebration in Sylmar at the time of the shooting, LAPD investigators had not revealed any potential suspects in the case. They also did not know whether the suspects fled the scene on foot or in a car.
Anyone with information, or those who may have captured video footage of the incident on cellphones or cameras, were asked to call Valley Bureau Homicide detectives at (818) 374-9550 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).