KEARNS, Utah — The family of Alonso Gerardo Garcia-Mendoza, who was shot and killed in a church parking lot in Kearns Tuesday, wants people to know he is more than just a victim — he was the rock of their family.
"He was the glue. He was the foundation," Garcia-Mendoza's sister Marisela Camacho said. "He was a great man. He was a loving person, a great father."
She said even from a young age, Garcia-Mendoza was always the father figure in their family.
"He took it upon himself to grow up at an early age and be there for his sisters and be that father figure for us," she said, adding that family was the most important thing in his life. "He always wanted to do family events. We always were having family dinners — everything was family. It was family first always, and it always will be."
"He's literally saved my life. I owe him my life, and now he's gone," his other sister Melinda Padilla said. "He allowed me to grow up and learn from my mistakes and become a mother."
His siblings describe Garcia-Mendoza as the type of man who would give someone the shirt off of his back. They say the thing they will miss most about him is his sense of humor and his ability to always put a smile on their faces.
"Everything was just so funny to him," Camacho said. "You could never have a sad moment in front of him because he's not going to let you be sad. Us being here today, he would not want us to be sad. He would want us to be cracking jokes on each other, laughing, you know, having a good time because that's just who he was."
Police arrested three suspects in connection with Garcia-Mendoza's death on Friday and are still searching for the fourth person involved in the shooting.
His family organized a vigil Sunday evening at the church where he was killed and set up a GoFundMe to support the wife and two children he leaves behind.