A Phoenix neighborhood is trying to come to grips with the murder of a beloved street vendor who they say took care of everybody who crossed his path.
“He got along with everybody and everybody knew him,” said Jorge Estrada, whose father was shot and killed on Tuesday night in the neighborhood where he was so well known for the snacks he would sell from his cart.
“They killed him to steal what little money he had on him.”
Eladio Arrendando-Estrada walked his grandchildren to school every morning when Jorge would go to work, the son said. During an interview at the home of his sister Wednesday night, he worried about how his kids would take the news that their grandfather was now gone.
“He helped me a lot with my kids. Now they’re going to be walking to school alone,” he said, as people of all ages poured into his sister’s house to offer their condolences to the family. The house is in the area of 26th Street and Bell Road in Phoenix, the neighborhood where Arrendando-Estrada would sell snacks from the cart he would push, and where he was murdered.
He was gunned down about 8:25 p.m. Tuesday, during what police say may have been an attempted armed robbery in a parking lot in the 16800 block of North 26th Street. He was shot as he was trying to flee from two men who confronted him, Phoenix Sgt. Alan Pfhol said. No arrests were reported as of Wednesday.
A day after the shooting, his relatives and friends mourned together in his daughter’s home. Though the house was filled, it was quiet but for the sound of Eladio’s wife, Maria de Jesus Garcia Casique, who wept knowing she would never see her husband again.
The killing left neighbors shaken as well. Many knew Arrendando-Estrada well.
Alma Perez said she called 911 after Tuesday’s shooting. She was in her bedroom when her son rushed up to her. She thought he was going to ask her for a dollar to buy a snack from Eladio.
“He said to me ‘Mommy, someone is pointing a gun at the man,’ ” Perez said. “He was here every day. He was a very nice, respectful man.”
Neighborhood children told stories about when Eladio gave them a snack with a promise to pay him back if they didn’t have money. Sometimes he would just give it to them for free, several children recalled.
Perez recalled seeing Eladio’s wife early on Wednesday. She wanted to speak to Perez because she was the last person to see him alive.
“How much money could he have had on him? He lost his life because of a few dollars,” Perez said.
Estrada said his father always wanted to go back to Mexico to be with his youngest daughter. The family is now facing the decision of whether to bury him in Arizona or bury him in his native country, which would be expensive.
Estrada also fears that if the family decides to bury him in Mexico that his mother will follow him there.
“She’s in shock. She isn’t going to see him again and doesn’t know what to do,” Estrada said. “We’re all very close, that’s why we live close.”
Estrada and Perez are working with the neighborhood to put together a potluck where they will sell tacos and other food this Friday to raise funds to help pay to fulfill Eladio’s wish.
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