A swarm of young adults, drenched from the rain, were hooting and hollering along Kern Avenue, thrusting donation boxes covered with images of Lucero Gutirrez in the air as cars drove passed.
The group is collecting donations to go toward everything needed for Lucero’s funeral—a goal they say they will continue to pursue until it's realized.
“We won’t stop collecting money until she is safely buried under ground,” said Lucero’s 13-year-old cousin, Veronica Becerra. “We’re all doing our best to raise enough money to make her rest in peace. No matter rain or shine, snow or hail, we’ll still be here for her no matter what,” chimed 14-year-old Rubi Lopez.
Lucero, known as “Lucy” by her friends and around The Redwoods apartment complex where she frequently rode her bike and played with neighbors, was killed Wednesday night in what police believe to be a murder-suicide. Her body was found next to the body of her 27-year-old brother, Abel, who is suspected of shooting Lucy before turning the gun on himself.
According to Lucy’s friends, “the sweet, little girl” was planning on trying out for track and volleyball in the fall, and was looking forward to celebrating her 12th birthday.
“It was almost her birthday, in August, and she didn’t even get to turn 12,” said 11-year-old Urbana Corras. “She said she was going to get braces on her birthday—that’s what she really wanted. She said, ‘I don’t want these cricked teeth no more,’” Lopez added.
Corras said she wants to help the group raise funds for Lucero because she knows her good friend would have done the same for her, or anybody else.
“We’re going to do it because if it was one of us, Lucero would of totally done this for us,” she said. “We will continue doing this no matter what because she was a kind, helpful little girl. She’d always help you. She would just do this for anyone, even if she didn’t know them, she’d still do this for them.”
The teens’ fundraising efforts coincided with a second vigil held for Lucero in the commons area of the apartment complex Friday. There, stood friends, family and acquaintances of Lucero and the Gutierrez family, praying and decorating the memorial site in front of the Gutierrez home.
Andrew Bibaeff, who stood before the memorial site adorn with numerous flowers, candles, balloons and loving notes, said he feels fortunate to have spent any time with Lucero.
“We went to the park, walking the dogs with our neighbor who came with a little girl, too, and Lucero was there. We all had fun, she had fun with her little friend and everyone around here. It was just a really good memory I got to share with her,” Bibaeff said. “She was a good little girl and everyone loved her. You can see that now—she’s got a lot of family and friends.”
Another friend of Lucero’s, 13-year-old Leslie Resendiz, who lives in the same apartment complex as the Gutirrez family, described Lucy as an energetic and joyful person.
“Lucero was just the happiest little girl in this neighborhood. She’d always be outside playing, every single day,” Resendiz said. “She was like my little sister.”
A memorial for Lucy is anticipated for sometime this week, but organizers are waiting to finalize plans in hope that Lucero’s mother, Martha, will appear. Martha has been missing since Tuesday evening, and because of a lack of leads, police said.
A memorial fund for Lucero and Abel Gutierrez was created Saturday, and the Gutierrez family is asking for donations to help with funeral costs. Information on how to donate is available .