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'He was never afraid to help you'

May 6, 2008 | 10:00 am

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Melvin Espinoza, 26, a Latino man, was fatally shot at the front door of his apartment in Lynwood about 1:30 a.m., August 27, 2005.

He and his girlfriend were awakened by a neighbor knocking at their front door. The neighbor said her boyfriend was arguing with four men who had been stealing fire extinguishers in the building. She asked Espinoza if he could intervene, Espinoza's sister, Jackie, said.

"He was never afraid to help you," she said.

He confronted the four men. "He told them to leave, and I guess they felt they were being disrespected," his sister said.

Espinoza and his girlfriend were returning to their apartment when two of the four men approached them. Espinoza said her brother pushed his girlfriend inside the apartment, closed the door and was shot in the face by one of the two men. He collapsed by the door and died, she said.

Four months after the shooting two of the four men were identified and arrested. The men were Latino gang members. Jackie Espinoza said her brother's girlfriend and the neighbor testified against the two men. The gunman was convicted of murder, she said. The other man was acquitted and released. Fearing retaliation, Espinoza's girlfriend moved to her grandmother's house in Riverside. Their neighbors also moved out of the area.

Jackie Espinoza, 31, said her brother had a big heart. He was 6 feet 1 and weighed about 200 pounds. She said he was the kind of man who would pull over if your car was broken down at the side of the road. He would offer you a ride as long as you gave him gas money. He never gave homeless people money but bought them food instead.

Her brother wanted to finish school to become a phlebotomist, a person who draws blood. He was a medical assistant and was taking care of their diabetic mother, who required insulin shots. She said her brother oversaw their mother's medications and doctor appointments.

She said her brother had a 1996 green Ford Explorer SUV that he loved. "He only used it for special occasions," she said. The SUV had neon lights, rims, a sound system and a Flowmaster exhaust system. "You could always hear him coming around the corner of our house," she said. "He loved loud noises."

According to Jackie, her 26-year-old sister now drives the SUV. "He had left something for all of us, should anything happen to him," she said. "He wanted her to keep the truck."   


The comments to this entry are closed.

Comments (16)

Melvin was obviously someone who deserves to be remembered and admired. The way he lived, not died, should be extolled and followed. Thank you for sharing his life with us.

Blessings,
Mother T

It's sad to know that good people who try to hekp others end up paying the price. Im just glad that one of the scumbags who did this was caught and is now sitting in prison for the rest of his life!!! Blessings out to his family and Rest In peace Melvin.

wow you cant help anyone anymore! tragedy discuss and filty people

I wonder what effect it would have on the other gang members to watch as their four convicted fellow members are made to kneel down in front of national television and each executed with shot to their heads? Unfortunately that is the only language these gang members understand. If it takes a public humilation to temper these useless sociopaths, then why are we not embracing it? Any one of us could be next as long as these killers run free.

I am sorry to hear that an apparently fine person was murdered by some scumbag gang member. I hope this guy never gets out of prison.

I would like to thank all the people who have helped us throughout these long 2 1/2 years and the people who have made comments on this website. My mother still cries for my brother everyday. He may not be here physically but still lives in our hearts and is remembered by the people that he made a difference in their lifes. Due to this tragedy, I continue a struggle against Victims of Crime by uniting with organizations that hold Peace Marches or Candle Light Vigils every year in rememberance on our loved ones. If it wasn't for groups like Drive By Agony, S.T.E.V.I.E, Cry No More, etc., we would be living with anger and hate in our hearts. Thanks to all the people that are part of my struggle and do something to fight Crime in our cities!

P.S. Special thanks to Ruben Vives for writting these kind of stories and letting people know about our loved ones.

Love,
Jackie Espinoza

Melvin will always be in our hearts!! & the people who did this to him should never come out & see the daylight again. Thank you for always looking out for me! Thank You for always putting me on check when ever I did Wrong!! And Thank You for Always being you " Big Melvin" Rest In Peace your Lil Sister Like You Use to Call me Liz...

I grew up with the Espinoza's and my family and I will always remember him. He was always very respectful. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe someone is gone and you wonder why things have to be that way. What do people get out of killing someone? Do they really think that they will go down in history for committing such a crime? No one cares about them and I’m glad their names were not mentioned in Melvin’s story. They don’t deserve any publicity.

It is very sad the way people continue with the urban violence here in Los Angeles County, I met Jackie and her family after the death of Melvin her family is strong and sticking together, that is very important after the death of a loved one. Hang in there Espinoza family. Pray for one another keep each other uplifted as much as possible, it is not a easy road to go down. I pray for Jackie's family and all the families like ours that have gone through this tragedy in our lives.

Unfortunately these people did not give me the opportunity to meet my brother by taking his life away in such a brutal and cold hearted way. But eventhough he is not with us anymore I am still getting to know how my brother was thanks to my sister Jackie. All I can say about the people that are out there doing no good is, "KARMA ALWAYS CATCHES UP" & "WE ALL PAY FOR WHAT WE DO IN THIS LIFE BEFORE WE LEAVE THIS EARTH"

STAY STRONG,
LOVE U SUSI ESPINOZA

i new melvin for many years, he always had a way of making you laugh or smile, no matter what kind of mood you were in. melvin will be missed. its a great lose for all. i am glad i got to know him

YES WELL I AGREE 100% WITH ALL OF THE COMMENTS POSTED HERE BY EVERYONE WHO LOVED MELVIN DEARLY I KNOW I DID HE WAS A BIG BROTHER FIGURE IN MY LIFE WHO ALWAYS MADE SURE I TOOK CARE OF BUSINESS AND WOULD ALWAYS LOOK OUT 4 ME THANX BARNEY OR AS HE WOULD CALL HIMSELF DADDY YANKEE I RECENTLY WENT THRU THIS ALL OVER AGAIN AND HOW I WISH U WERE HERE 2 HELP ME THRU THIS BUT I KNOW UR WATCHIN DOWN ON US 4RM HEAVEN.LUV AND MISS U ALWAYS*DARLENE MENDOZA*

I just wanted to invite everyone to a candle light vigil that will take place at Lynwood Park @ 7p on Friday, May 1, 2009. This event is to remember Melvin and all other victims of a crime that are not here with us but are in our hearts. Please bring pictures and invite anyone! There will be many candlelight vigils throughout LA county. Victims of Crime week (April 26-May 1). Please contact me if you are interested in attending any of the events and I can email you a flyer. [email protected]
Thanks....
Jackie

Hello, thank you for your continued support to share and educate others about victims and what they do to help stop the violence in their communities. I pray for Jackie and her family as I do for all of us who must live a life with out our loved ones and I am proud that they are a part of the organization Drive By Agony

Most sincerely,


Lorna Hawkins
Drive By Agony

Hi Jackie
I'm not sure to know if this is the Melvin I knew when I was just 15 years of age, but he was the nicest friends I had in 8th grade. I lived in Warwick St. in Brookly and attended IS302. I'm not sure if this is him or not, but I pray that all his family and loved ones will remember him and find healing in the Lord. If this is the Melvin I knew please contact me in my email. Thank You!! -Edda

hey my name is sulma and i do remember his truck and loud noise im his cousin the day i found out of his death we wore all devastated !! he made everyone laugh and smile lol i remember the day after his death my dad saying " i still imagine him coming down our street with that loud music and i knew that was my nephew.... there goes melvin" he visited at times just to see how my folks were doing and to get on my moms case for not visiting my aunt at times lol. he is missed " rip mel"



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The Homicide Report is compiled using information from the Los Angeles County coroner's office, local law enforcement agencies and the Los Angeles Times. It is written by Times staff writers.


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