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Support Group Is Grieving Mother’s Tribute to Slain Son

Times Staff Writer

Marisa Martinez made a promise to her son after he was shot dead in March in front of the family’s south Oxnard home. She vowed to honor his memory by helping others cope with similar tragedies.

On Wednesday, Martinez will keep that promise when she and her husband, Rodrigo, launch the Ventura County chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, a nationwide support group.

“I didn’t want my son to die in vain,” said Martinez, who has become one of Oxnard’s most outspoken crime fighters since 19-year-old Vincent Martinez was killed in a shooting that remains unsolved.

“I’m doing this for him,” she said, “so his name will live on.”

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The group will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Cafe on A Street in downtown Oxnard, 438 S. A St. It is open to all survivors of homicide victims, not just parents.

Martinez said several people who have lost family members to violent crime have committed to attending the inaugural session, which will begin with a candlelight vigil.

“There aren’t enough resources out there for people who have experienced something like this,” Martinez said. “I think if we can come together and talk about what we are feeling, it will make it a little bit easier for everybody.”

Little has been easy for Martinez since she lost her son.

Vincent was on his front lawn, on his way to have dinner with friends, when four males in a white Ford Bronco pulled up to the curb.

One of them shouted something and shots rang out. He died in his father’s arms, on a patch of lawn now marked by religious statues and rosaries.

Vincent was not a gang member, and there is no evidence that the shooting was gang-related, his family and police say.

Unwilling to let the shooting fade from public view, the Martinez family offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Vincent’s killer.

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And Marisa Martinez began appearing at City Council meetings and on talk radio and cable TV programs to urge residents to rise up against a wave of youth violence washing over their beachside community.

Martinez hopes that the new support group will draw countywide interest.

The group’s monthly meetings will be housed at the Cafe on A Street, which is known for its work in steering gang members and other troubled youth in a positive direction.

Co-owner Armando Vasquez said that, in a way, the support group brings that work full circle.

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“We wanted to open the doors to this organization for their grieving,” Vasquez said. “We don’t know what’s going to come about, but we hope healing takes place.”

Martinez said that in the nearly 10 months since the shooting, healing has come by degrees.

The process was aided in October by the birth of Vincent’s daughter, Vincestina. Vincent’s girlfriend, Christina Bojorquez, was pregnant when Vincent was killed. Mother and child now live in the Martinez home.

“I kind of see it as his gift to me,” Marisa Martinez said. “In a way, a little part of him is still here. That’s what makes our days go by a little easier.”

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Call (805) 766-2786 or (805) 483-7050 for more information about Parents of Murdered Children.


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