The five sons of Sara Aguilar and Raul Aguirre, Sr. — Raul Jr., Alexander, David, Job and William — always considered “family” to be most important. When their father, a Marine veteran and Army reservist, died in 1996 at the young age of 41, there was no thought of breaking the family up or taking them out of their San Fernando home. In fact, Raul Jr. and William still reside with Sara in the family home. Job, and his wife Evy Macias, live in the guest house in the back.
Alexander lived there, too.
Even though Raul Jr. was the oldest, it was Alexander who assumed the role of father figure for the other boys, even though he was still a teenager. He was the pillar everyone else gravitated to and leaned on.
“My mom [who worked as a housekeepe] did everything she could to provide for us,” David said. “Given that, Alex was literally our father. He raised me, he raised Job, William — even Raul. Alex was the man of the house. We wouldn’t be scared of my mom coming home from work; you’d be scared when Alex came home. It was like, ‘Hey guys, Alex is here. Take out the trash. We didn’t do the vacuuming.’”
It’s why the death of Alexander, who was found murdered in a parking lot of an apartment complex in Sylmar last Nov. 12, has left family members reeling and searching for answers.
LAPD detectives currently investigating the murder say they have little to go on. A $50,000 reward, authorized by the Los Angeles City Council, is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Alexander, 40, lived his entire life in the City of San Fernando. He graduated from Gridley Elementary School in Sylmar, San Fernando Middle School and Sylmar High School, and worked as a salesman, driver and distributor for Miller Light and Allied Beverages in the Valley (although he had been recently laid off from Allied). He had a son — Alexander Jr., now 13, — and while he was not currently living with the mother, he was active in his son’s life.
The family says emphatically that Alexander was never a gang member. But they believe he was “targeted” by his killer or killers. They also described his murder as an “assassination.”
“To figure out that he was taken out like that — like assassination style — it’s crazy,” David said. “To have someone walk up to him [and shoot him] … The detectives haven’t been given much, But we ourselves, we live in the neighborhood. Alex knew everyone. There’s people that are like, ‘Hey this is what I heard.’ You hear the whispers right? And a lot of them have the similar story. But in the end, the endings [to those stories] are all different.”
Evy is concerned that the reward offer could possibly make them targets as well. But they will do whatever they can to help solve the murder.
“Unfortunately where we grew up [in San Fernando], it is ‘snitches get stitches,’” she said. “That’s not the only fear, you know? The person who killed my brother is still [out there]; I can walk by them [and not know] at any moment.
“We have cameras and stuff now because it’s scary. They killed him. I’m fearful for my husband; you know that they know that’s his brother. There’s a lot of things, but we have to take that risk.”
Evy said the night that changed their lives began with a knock on the door.
“That night, a few minutes past 10 p.m., Alexander’s friend came by,” Evy said. “He said that Alex had been shot, and he told me where.”
According to his family, Alexander was visiting friends at the apartment complex, and was leaving when he was approached by the killers. He was shot in the head, and was declared dead at the scene.
His brother David went to the location himself about 30 minutes later.
“A police officer pulled me aside that night and said, ‘between you and I, this was personal because of the proximity of the shot, having him let someone get that close to him,’” David said.
“Yeah, it had to be someone that he knew. Which is why, for us, it is more startling and more troubling, right? The officer said, ‘I’ve been doing this for many years. If it was gang-related, it would have been shoot-shoot-shoot-shoot-shoot-shoot then get away.”
As David continued to described what happened, his eyes cast down but his voice didn’t waiver.
“It wasn’t [gang-related]. But after speaking to people that are in the area, it was like [the killers] … they have one motive and that was to get him. So it was something personal.”
Even though the reward offer was approved by the LA City Council on April 12, the family was told it would be a few weeks before it could be publicly announced.
The family — especially Evy — didn’t want to wait that long and started contacting media outlets.
“Every time I tried to ask the detectives or the city council [about making the reward public], it’s always some pushback like, ‘Oh, it’s gonna take like two months.’ We felt discouraged because we watch the news, and there’s someone who dies that same day. And there’s already, you know, news coverage,” she said.
“At least for me, and my husband, sometimes it feels like if Alex doesn’t matter. Why am I having to [push for this]? My brother died in November.”
Police Need Witnesses
Detective Christine Moselle of the LAPD Valley Bureau is one of the lead investigators on the case. She says nearly six months into the investigation, police still have precious little to go on.
“The most important thing is, we have to have witnesses come forward that can tell us what happened,” Moselle said.
“We’re out there investigating, and there are different forms of evidence — and I’m just speaking in generalities. There are different things we can use: video, cell phone records, description of cars and different parts of the puzzle we can put together. But the most important is witnesses who were actually there who can tell us what happened.”
The detective added that even if the case is solved and an arrest is made, “We have to have people who will come forward and [testify] so we can prove the evidence and details of what happened in court.”
“That’s a very high bar, and it needs to be because we are taking away someone’s freedom,” Moselle said. “But we can’t do it on our own.” She said while people do give them information, the police have to “substantiate” that information as being factual.
Moselle could not speak directly on the specifics of the ongoing investigation, but said, “what we do know is” police did respond to a call in the area of Bromont Avenue and Maclay Street that night about a gunshot victim later identified as Alex Aguirre.
“We believe that at least two individuals approached him for unknown reasons, and one of them used a gun and shot him at a very close range,” the detective said. “So far we have not identified the vehicle or the number of people involved, or the motive for this.”
She’s empathetic to the frustrations felt by the Aguirre family because there is not much more investigators can tell them at this time. She said the department will officially announce the reward offer on May 2.
“I know the family has, you know, a lot of other theories and stuff,” Moselle said. “There’s been very few people that have come forward to speak with us up to this point. We’re what, six months into this investigation? We still don’t know why this happened.”
A Brother’s Anguish
David was content at first to let Evy speak for the family. But when he began talking about Alexander as well, the pain and anger poured out of him in giant waves.
“You know, he sacrificed for us,” David said. “He would say, ‘I would rather go through all the [stuff] that we have to go through in this neighborhood to make sure that … you guys succeed in life.’ I got to go to college and graduate. I got to do all the things that I wanted to do because he said, It’s okay. I want you to do that.’ Like he was everyone’s number one cheerleader.
“I wish it was something that was gang-related because at least we would know that, ‘Hey, that’s what it was. Hey, you play the game, that’s how the game ends.’ Or it was, you know, a drug deal gone bad. You know the consequences of that. But the fact that it wasn’t any of that stuff is a lot more heartbreaking. It was just a decent man, for whatever reason it was, that was taken.”
David said William, his youngest brother, is in therapy. So is their mom, who is now taking medication.
The family is desperate to provide some closure for their mother Sara, David said.
“The closure for us is definitely making sure — and I think it’s more for my mom — just to see justice. You know, we live in a neighborhood [that is] predominantly Latino, Hispanic, right? So, again, we get these [incidents] where we feel like the cops are the bad people and this and that, and we don’t want to look at it that way. We want to make sure that we’re getting help.”
Anyone with information on the homicide is asked to call the LAPD Valley Bureau (818) 374-9550 or the LAPD’s 24-hour tipline at (877) 527-3247. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.