Carrying candles and signs, a solemn group of family, friends and total strangers gathered Thursday for a vigil walk to remember 17-year-old Alexis Mendoza Raymundo and to demand justice for his killing in Santa Maria last week.
The emotional gathering attracted about 80 people for “A Walk for Alexis,” which began at the Santa Maria Town Center West parking lot and ended at a city-owned parking structure across the street.
The shooting occurred shortly before midnight Feb. 4 and fatally wounded the 17-year-old hanging out with a group of fellow vehicle enthusiasts. A 24-year-old woman also received significant but non-life-threatening injuries in the incident.
Santa Maria police had not announced any arrests in the case as of Thursday.
At the parking structure Thursday evening, several burning candles, positioned in the shape of a cross, joined a flag, balloons, signs and more to make up the memorial as people formed a half-circle in front of the site.
His parents added candles to the memorial and gathered to hug as a family minus one member — Alexis.
Loud sobs filled the parking structure, and others cried at the loss of the teenager who friends said loved his truck, siblings and joking around.
On the cement in white, 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 it feel safe for us,” speaker Chasity Lavata’i said.
Teenagers should be able to have fun without fear of violence and a constant feeling of being unsafe, according to Lavata’i.
The crowd also demanded “Justice for Alexis,” shouting the phrase several times.
One Community Action organized the event, which occurred on the eve of a funeral for the teenager.
Executive Director Rebekah Spicuglia, the mother of 2015 homicide victim Oscar Joaquin, wore a shirt that read, “Oscar’s Mom.”
“Alexis should still be here with us. His family shouldn’t be grieving alone, and we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.
Pati Cantu, board president for One Community Action, added that it was important to recognize the loss of another young life to violence.
“Another mother’s going to bury her son due to gun violence,” she said. “Somebody needs to do something.
“I don’t think it’s a youth violence issue. I think it’s violence in the community, and the youth are reflecting what they see. We need to change that.”
Anyone with information about the shootings can call Santa Maria police Detective Seth Hall at 805.928.3781 x1308.