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latest news Fernando Arroyos came home to be a cop, but fell to LA violence

When Lt. Rex Ingram of the LAPD first read a police report written by Officer Fernando Arroyos, he realized the young LA native and newcomer to the force was something special.

For starters, he could write better than most of his LAPD peers and some of his bosses.

“So I asked him where he went to school, and he, being humble, said ‘LAUSD’” – or LA Public Schools – Ingram recalled. “And I say, ‘Which college?’ And he says, ‘Cal Berkeley.’

The anecdote – of a humble man, back in his hometown after going to college, still shy about his accomplishments even though they shone in his work – came back to Ingram in a moment of mourning this week , after Arroyos was shot Monday night on a South Los Angeles street not too far from where he grew up.

Like many in Los Angeles who are fatally shot in robberies and other senseless gunfire, 27-year-old Arroyos was from that city, a young man of color with potential and a life to live, only to be ripped off. Also, like others killed here – there were 397 homicide victims in 2021, a 15-year high – he left behind his family, friends and colleagues, who are now wondering: why him?

“I want to remember my son as a hero because of his work,” Arroyos’ mother Claudia Karin said in an interview with KABC-TV Channel 7. “As the [police] An official who contacted me told me that there were no words for it, because he was a good policeman.

Beyond work, however, her son was more, she said.

“As a son he was the best. As a grandson he was the best.

“I loved him like my own son,” Arroyos’ stepfather Jose Reyes told the TV station. “He was a polite young man. He was always great with me. We never argued.

Amid an outpouring of attention around Arroyos’ murder, the family asked for no more interviews – space and time to come to terms with their loss.

Online, activists and police critics who didn’t know Arroyos but who challenge the Los Angeles Police Department’s legacy of abuse have tried to dismiss his death, speculating about his cause based on little more than their own negative perceptions of the LAPD and anyone who joins it.

Many in Los Angeles, however, have simply seen another life disappear in another outburst of violence at a time of too many deaths, both from street shootings and COVID-19 and all.

Dozens of bouquets of flowers and lighted candles placed under a white canopy marked a memorial in the courtyard on Thursday outside the Leimert Park apartment of Arroyos’ parents.

Arroyos’ neighbor Benedict Bernardez, 52, said he was still in disbelief as he looked out from his second-floor house towards the open courtyard, where he and Arroyos sometimes trained together.

“When his mother called me a few days ago and told me the news, I was shocked,” said Bernardez, who has lived at the resort for eight years. “He was such a good boy, a calm boy.”

Robert Schafer, who said he taught Arroyos science at Crenshaw High School, mourned his death as a senseless loss to the city and to so many who knew him in a Facebook post that circulated among other LA staffers. Unified.

“He was a good student, a hard worker and a man of character,” Schafer wrote. “All the work he put in to be his best and reach [his] dreams, and all the help and support of family, friends, colleagues and teachers who happily took the opportunity to encourage and guide such a promising young man, were wiped out in seconds by a tape of murderers and thieves who ended the life of this handsome man during the most insignificant things.

Another Crenshaw High teacher at the time, Mario Quijada, coached Arroyos in the Students Run LA program, which teaches kids to set goals by training for a marathon. Arroyos has always been serious and diligent, working his way up to run a half marathon, Quijada said.

“He stood out. He wore ties, things kids don’t do. He would be very professional, wear a tie, a blazer,” said Quijada, now vice-principal at another school. “He was just trying to find his way.”

LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Arroyos was off duty and with his girlfriend looking for a house to buy in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood when three suspects arrived in a car and drove off. exchanged words – then gunshots – with the young officer. Moore described it as an attempted robbery.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department quickly arrested four suspects in connection with the murder, and on Thursday federal prosecutors charged them all — Jesse Contreras, 34; Ernesto Cisneros, 22; Luis Alfredo de la Rosa Rios, 27, and Haylee Marie Grisham, 18 – with the murder of Arroyos for the benefit of the Florencia 13 gang.

The complaint alleges that the group robbed and murdered Arroyos “to increase and maintain his position” within the gang. Investigators said they spotted Arroyos wearing chains around his neck and decided to steal them from him.

Moore said Arroyos yelled at his girlfriend to run and was defending her when he fell. He said Arroyos died a hero. The head of the Civilian Police Commission called the attackers cowards.

Arroyos grew up in a family with his mother, grandmother and stepfather, attended 42nd Street Elementary School and Audubon Middle School, graduated from Crenshaw High in 2012, moved to Berkeley and graduated there. in legal studies in 2016, then returned home. to the

In a time of intense scrutiny around the policing profession, he wanted to become a cop and do it in his hometown. Colleagues said he joined the force for all the right reasons.

Others mourned his loss when they saw his face, still skinny, under his large police hat, in an image released by the department after his death.

Darneika Watson, who was principal of 42nd Street Elementary when Arroyos was a student there, said she remembered him well when she saw his police headshot. He was older in the photo, of course, but looked a lot like the kid she had known.

“His face was so sweet,” she said. “He was a quiet, gentle child. Gentle spirit.

Watson, known as Dr. Davis when she was principal of 42nd Street for eight years, is now director of human resources and operations for the Glendale Unified School District. She has 28 years of education in total, has known countless children. And yet, Arroyos and his family stand out clearly in her mind, she said.

He was “no problem, no problem”, the kind of kid who was calm but still participated in class. And Arroyos’ mother was always kind in the more limited interactions they also had outside of school for morning get-togethers, Watson said.

“Just a very responsible family. Nothing but wonderful feelings and memories about this family, and especially about him,” she said. “I can’t say enough how kind he was to a kid.”

Bernardez, the neighbor, said he often saw Arroyos training in the yard after dark, after working a night shift.

“He was very dedicated to his fitness and his bodybuilding,” he said.

The two occasionally lifted weights together, on a bench press chained to a fence toward the back of the yard, not far from the makeshift memorial to his memory.

“He was a smart, strong young man who could have achieved a lot in life,” Bernardez said. “Why it happened, I’ll never know.”

Above a five-foot cinder block wall from the courtyard stands the Acacia Learning Center, an after-school institute dedicated to children with autism and mental disabilities. It was from there that Debra Penson, the program’s coordinator for 22 years, said she saw Arroyos grow.

“He seemed to be very quiet and maybe a bit shy,” Penson said. “He mostly kept himself.”

Then, about three years ago, just as Arroyos joined the LAPD, Penson saw the boy she knew back home — and different.

“A tall, strong, but very respectful, upright and polite man came back,” Penson said. “Honestly, I thought he went to the army.”

Penson said the couple only spoke occasionally and briefly, but she came to admire how he had matured.

“I was proud that he had a passion in his life,” she said. “It’s really sad what happened.”

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