Vigil for Valeria “Munique” Alvarado – Young Mother Killed by Border Patrol

by on October 2, 2012 · 14 comments

in Activism, Editor's Picks, Government

A crowd gathers for the vigil for Valeria Munique at the intersection of Moss and Oaklawn Streets in Chula Vista. (All photos by Frank Gormlie.)

Question is raised – is this our ‘Trayvon Martin’?

Nearly two hundred people attended the vigil for Valeria “Munique” Tachiquin Alvarado  in Chula Vista Monday early evening.  Family, friends, supporters and strangers – and the media – gathered at the intersection of Moss Street and Oaklawn Avenue – where she was shot to death by a plainclothes border patrol agent on Friday afternoon, September 28th, while in her car.

Valeria “Munique” Tachiquin Alvarado

The 32 year old mother of 5 had been fatally killed during some kind of interaction with the agent. Reports of what happened differed wildly.  And during the at times emotional vigil family members, including the young woman’s father, called for answers and justice.

Speaking first, Christian Ramirez of the American Friends Service Committee  spoke about the evening being a sober one. He said the community vigil “was called by the family to remember her life and bear testimony to the tragedy that occurred 72 hours ago. They demand justice.”

Ramirez called upon the Chula Vista police department investigating the shooting to release information on the agent – “We’re waiting,” he said, “to hear their response.”

“We’re here to let the family know they don’t stand alone. We won’t allow this kind of violence go without a response. It’s important to return to the location to reclaim it, to reclaim the life of Munique.”

The victim’s father, Valentine Tachiquin, speaks to the crowd. His son Antonio stands to his left.

Valeria’s father, Valentine, spoke next. Speaking in both English and Spanish, he thanked each person there for sharing “our pain. This is a great outpouring from the community.” Then in Spanish, he cried, “There are consequences for their actions!” to the murmurs of agreement from the crowd. He was born in TJ, he said, came to this country, and “moved to Chula Vista, had three kids.  The community embraced me,” he said. “I’m so much a part of this community, that my daughter died here.”  There weren’t many dry eyes.

Valentine went on:

“This is a political thing. They’re going to make my daughter look bad.  Her character is not in question. The question is that they need to answer is ‘who killed her?'”

He said “the family will always be grateful because you guys are here.”

Antonio, Valeria’s brother, also thanked the crowd.  He was about to be deployed as a US Army reservist when he sister was gunned to death. “All we are asking for is justice and dignity,” he said, and continued:

“There’s no hate or anger in my heart.  If they [border patrol] made a mistake – anywhere that day – that they own up to it.”

Mingling in the crowd before the speakers began, I ran into a young man who had made a YouTube video rant about Valeria’s death.   Considering himself a citizen video journalist, he and an associate had been out interviewing witnesses to the shooting. They had spoken to a dozen, he estimated.  “The witnesses are scarred,” he told me. “There’s a lot of intimidation going on out there.” I had earlier heard from several people that after the shooting, border patrol agents had handcuffed witnesses.

This videographer – who will remain anonymous – told me that to a person, all the witnesses he spoke to totally disagreed with the border patrol version of the events that had transpired last Friday afternoon.

The current version is that the shooter was an un-uniformed border patrol agent serving a felony warrant in the neighborhood.  He was not serving any warrants on Valeria – who is definitely a US citizen. She just happened to be in the neighborhood visiting.  The official version has her running the agent down with her car – him jumping up on her hood – and she driving down Moss Street for “several hundred yards” with him clinging to the hood.

“Fearing for his life, he discharged his weapon to get the vehicle to stop,” Border Patrol Deputy Chief Rodney Scott claimed to the media.

The spot in the road where Valeria died.

The witnesses the journalist I spoke with said that they witnessed different parts of what happened.  But they all agreed to disagree with the official version.  He said:

“The [agent] shot her while she was backing up. He wasn’t on her hood.” 

And to add more insult, no one rushed to give her aid – “she was still alive, still  moving,” the videographer said. They just let her lie there, he added sadly.

More than one person raised the issue of whether Valeria’s shooting was “our Trayvon Martin case”.  And this all depends on what the ultimate response is from the Border Patrol and the Chula Vista Police doing the investigation. The community and the family await this answer … and every minute is an eternity.

avatar bob dorn October 2, 2012 at 10:38 am

Thanks for this coverage, and also to Channel 6 and others for staying on this story; so many loose ends they can’t be raveled. The Border Patrol is staying out of reach and mum on the subject and it’s probably too big for the CV Police Department. But who and what has the power to investigate the BP’s shooter? A federal grand jury, maybe?

avatar Gordon Wagner October 2, 2012 at 11:44 am

The Border Patrol will investigate itself and find nothing amiss. The only difference between cops and your average gang would be retirement benefits.

avatar Andy Cohen October 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Let’s let the investigation play out before we jump to conclusions about what their conclusions will be. If the findings are suspect, then we can scream bloody hell. but until then, let’s let the police do their job. The investigation has only just begun.

avatar Goatskull October 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Well said. It’s way too soon to jump to conclusions. It’s never right to assume anything at this early of a stage. Also, before assuming the BP is going to protect their own consider the cases of agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Campean who both were sentenced to 12 years in prison for shooting someone who was actually a criminal (drug smuggler) and he survived. Granted their sentences were commuted and they were released in 2009 but that was by Bush, not the courts. Let the investigation go through and develop an opinion after its concluded.

avatar Frank Gormlie October 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm

If the Border Patrol gets away with killing an innocent mother in the middle of the street in broad daylight, then everyone with skin a shade darker than yours is in danger.

The court of public opinion is meeting right now … and so far, after 4 days of absolute nothing from officialdom except an unbelievable story … the jury is deliberating. Oh, and if we wait long enough, maybe the story will blow over.

avatar Goatskull October 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I’m still going to wait.

avatar Greg M. Schwartz October 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

This sounds like a story that needs much deeper investigation from an official journalism source that the Border Patrol will be forced to respond to. This is the type of thing I would have investigated when I was a staff writer with the San Antonio Current. I’ll try pitching it to Voice of San Diego…

avatar Frank Gormlie October 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Greg – WTF? Excuse me? How rude of you to assume the Free Press is not an “official journalism source”. And the Voice?

avatar Greg M. Schwartz October 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Hey, I like the Free Press a lot, or I wouldn’t read it. But in the eyes of the police and the Border Patrol, it is probably viewed as no more than a lefty blog that they don’t need to care about… The Voice on the other hand has been recognized by no less than The New York Times (not that I personally am a big fan of the Times, but we’re talking about mainstream credibility/recognition here.)

avatar John Lawrence October 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm

“And to add more insult, no one rushed to give her aid – “she was still alive, still moving,” the videographer said. They just let her lie there, he added sadly.”

Why didn’t all these witnesses including the videographer, who say the officer shot her while she was backing up, rush to give her aid?

avatar Frank Gormlie October 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm

No, the videographer was not present at the scene. When bullets are flying, civilians rarely risk having their children or themselves shot. Re-read the post, some witnesses were actually handcuffed and detained by the Border Patrol. It’s difficult to reach your cell phone with handcuffs on.

The more basic question is: Why didn’t the agent or police call for medical assistance?

avatar Goatskull October 2, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Here’s a little more info finally. Granted it’s the MT (Manchester Tribune) but what do you think?

avatar Gordon Wagner October 3, 2012 at 5:56 am

I think it’s a cover-up. Un-uniformed man with a gun tells you to STOP? Screw that noise, crush the bastard. A couple of times.

avatar Greg M Schwartz October 3, 2012 at 12:11 am

The UT has a “watchdog” team, but it doesn’t look like they were utilized on this story. This reads deeply slanted compared to the SDFP report, which is what you would expect from a paper that is owned by a right-wing swine like Doug Manchester. I am so pitching this to VOSD…

The Two Faces of Papa Doug
http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/economy/article_474a2f30-fc7a-11e1-bdd9-0019bb2963f4.html

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