‘They were so innocent’: Orange mass shooting shattered a family business; victims remembered
Luis Tovar lived for his family.
An avid outdoorsman, the 50-year-old frequently loaded them up in his fifth-wheel for camping trips to Arizona. He sat them on the back of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to ride through the hills above Fullerton. They spent every Fourth of July, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas gathered at his home in northeast Anaheim.
And when he launched Unified Homes in 2006 with the goal of helping people buy, sell and remodel their manufactured homes, it was only fitting that his family be part of that, too. But this week, a business he built from the ground up became the setting for tragedy.
On Wednesday, a gunman entered the office building on West Lincoln Avenue and opened fire, killing Tovar; his daughter Genevieve Raygoza, 28; longtime employee Leticia Solis Guzman, 58; and 9-year-old Matthew Farias, who was Genevieve’s half-brother.
Matthew’s mother, Blanca Tamayo, who is also Genevieve’s mother, was wounded and remains in critical condition. She also worked at Unified Homes. When police arrived, they found Tamayo’s arms wrapped around her young son, according to the Tovar family.
The suspect, 44-year-old Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, is facing multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, along with felony enhancements. Gonzalez had two children with a former employee of Unified Homes, the Tovar family said.
Orange suspect faces four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.
In one day, Vania Tovar, 28, had her father, half-sister and members of her large, tight-knit extended family ripped away.
“My dad was everything for us,” she said through tears Friday. “He was the kindest person. Whenever anyone needed something, even if he hadn’t seen them in years, he was willing to give them the shirt off his back. Our whole family is just so confused. They were so innocent in all of this.”
Luis Tovar was an Orange County native. He was so well-liked at Anaheim High School that students crowned him prom king his senior year. He later earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business administration and finance from Cal State Fullerton and had talked about pursuing a juris doctorate, according to his family.
As a father, Tovar had a strict set of rules for his five children. He expected them to eat well, get good grades and work hard. He was much softer with his six grandchildren.
“Waffles and ice cream — that’s what he considered to be a good breakfast for his grandkids,” Vania Tovar said.
Kennedy Gonzalez, 21, said he felt a mixture of anger and sadness when he learned that one of the victims of the mass shooting was an old family friend — Luis Tovar.
“He was a good man, a family man,” Gonzalez said. “He always took care of my family.”
Luis Tovar was especially close to daughter Genevieve Raygoza, whom Vania Tovar described as being “sunshine on a cloudy day.”
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Father and daughter shared a love for the outdoors and a passion for their business. She worked for him as a transaction manager at Unified Homes for a decade.
Her husband, Armando Raygoza, works on the construction side of the business. But the couple’s story began long before they became colleagues. Friendship blossomed into love inside a calculus classroom at Fullerton College. Genevieve Raygoza captured Armando’s attention the moment she stepped into the classroom.
“She was beautiful. I saw her and immediately knew I had to sit as close as I could to her,” he said. “She had it all — beauty and brains — and a huge heart.”
When the instructor suggested classmates exchange information to work collaboratively on assignments, she surprised him by asking for his phone number before he could ask for hers. After two years of dating, they had their first child — a son they named Nathaniel. They married a few years later and then welcomed their second son, Andres.
For Armando, it’s the everyday moments — the bike rides to the park with their boys or the way she lay next to them reading bedtime stories night after night — that mean the most.
“We were supposed to grow old together,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion. “Luis would always tell us to enjoy life because we don’t know how long we have together, but we didn’t think it would be this short.”
Leticia Solis Guzman, who was among those killed in the violence, was a longtime sales executive at Unified Homes. In her profile picture on Facebook, Solis is standing next to Luis Tovar’s daughters in front of a giant Christmas tree in what appears to be the family’s living room. The top of Solis’ Facebook page reads in Spanish: “I’m a Leo, a warrior, cool, cheerful, I love dancing, I love my family and happiness.”
Police say suspect Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez had a “business and personal relationship” with the victims
The Solis family could not be reached for comment. Yolanda Torres, an acquaintance of Solis, said she hadn’t learned what happened to her until Friday.
“Honestly, this was difficult to take in,” she said. “She was an excellent person that I had the luck of knowing. This was honestly difficult news, we’re living in such difficult times.”
The day of the shooting just happened to be one of the days that Matthew Farias, 9, accompanied his mom to work at Unified Homes instead of going to day care, his aunt Rosie Farias said Friday. Hoover Elementary School in Santa Ana, where Matthew was a third-grader, is doing distance learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fermin Leal, Santa Ana Unified School District’s chief communications officer, said in a statement that the district was “heartbroken by [the] senseless act of violence” that claimed Matthew’s life.
The victims of the Orange mass shooting were connected through a mobile home business where the violence occurred.
Matthew’s death is like the loss of one of her own children, Rosie Farias said. She lives just two miles from Ralph Farias, her younger brother and Matthew’s father, in Santa Ana. Before the pandemic, their kids spent almost every other weekend together. Matthew cherished every moment he spent with his family, she said.
“He sometimes didn’t want to leave, whether he was at my house, my husband, my sister, my brother. It didn’t matter, he just wanted to stay there longer. He just loved the family,” she said.
Although the boy’s death has rocked their family, Rosie Farias says she’s mostly concerned about Ralph. Matthew was his only child. She said he seemed sad and lost — his eyes teary — but she didn’t think the reality had fully hit him. She suspects that will change once he goes to the coroner’s office.
“I feel like that’s when it’s gonna all come down,” she said. “He’s going to be coming home — alone.”
Times librarian Cary Schneider contributed to this report.
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