A small collection of candles sits near a street lamp outside Lincoln Elementary School in Long Beach, the only indication that Jesus Nava, a 23-year old Latino, was shot to death here at 11 p.m. on Dec. 12.
The intersection where he was killed -- 11th Street and Orange Avenue in East Long Beach -- was just seven blocks away from where he lived. Nava was pronounced dead at St. Mary's Medical Center, about 500 feet from the Metro station he had exited moments before his slaying.
“He just never made it back home,” his sister, Rosa Nava, said of that night. She learned of her brother's death when Long Beach police detectives visited her home about 3 a.m. as she and her husband were preparing to go to work on their delivery route for the Los Angeles Times.
“All the brothers would be there all the time on the weekends,” his sister said.
A recently out-of-work roofer, he had been living with his sister and her family since September. The day before he was killed, he received his unemployment check and gave his sister $150 to help pay for food for her family of six, including his four nieces and nephews.
“He knew we were currently struggling to buy groceries,” she said.
The other part of his unemployment check was going to be devoted to buying diapers for his 2-year-old son, Joseph, who lived with his mother in North Long Beach, where Nava was from, near where the 710 and 91 freeways meet.
People in their North Long Beach neighborhood have known Nava “since he was in diapers,” his sister said.
Most Christmases at their parents' home are busy, she said. Nava had four brothers and two sisters who all bring their families to celebrate, filling the home with more than 20 people. This Christmas, Rosa Nava said her brother planned to buy games for his son and his ex-girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, Lucy.
Instead, all Christmas plans for the family were canceled.
Two days before Christmas, services were held for Nava at All Souls Mortuary in Long Beach. His ashes were be entombed Tuesday.
"There's still that one [present] that's still there," Rosa Nava said of a gift for her brother left unopened.
Nava was the only member of his family to die in recent history, his sister said. Some of their great- grandparents are still living and were not even told of his death because family members believed it would be too hard for them to learn that they outlived their 23-year-old great-grandson.
The possibility of Nava's death being gang-related is being considered, although Det. Patrick O' Dowd said authorities do not believe Nava had any gang involvement.
"We're still investigating different theories," O'Dowd said. "It's even harder when the victim has small children. Especially around the holidays."
Anyone with information about this shooting is asked to contact O'Dowd or Det. Terri Hubert at (562) 570-7244.
-- Lauren Williams in Long Beach
Follow The Homicide Report on Twitter @latimeshomicide.
Photo: Jesus Nava, 23, was shot and killed Dec. 12 in Long Beach. Credit: Nava family. Map: Location of Nava's shooting. Credit: Google maps.