Former soccer coach shot dead

GLENDALE — A 46-year-old former soccer coach and graduate of St. Francis High School, who also attended Glendale Community College, was fatally wounded Thursday along with a 56-year-old man after a Long Beach Memorial Medical Center colleague shot them and then himself, authorities said.

Hugo Bustamante, of Cypress, was discovered in the pharmacy area of the hospital, according to the Long Beach Police Department. He was transported to the emergency room, where he later died.

The second victim, Kelly Hales, of Redondo Beach, was found outside the hospital with a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead after being transported to the emergency room for treatment, said Nancy Pratt, a Police Department spokeswoman.

Police responded to shots fired at the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center shortly before noon. They found the suspect, 50-year-old Mario Ramirez, a medical technician from Alhambra, lying in the street on the north side of the hospital. Based on the preliminary investigation, police believe Ramirez died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Bustamante was the pharmacy manager, and Hales was executive director of the hospital’s outpatient pharmacy, hospital spokeswoman Stacie Crompton-Hime said. Police declined to speculate about a motive for the shooting, Pratt said.

Bustamante, who is survived by his wife Jane, 42; daughter Ashley, 10; and son Dominic, 4, as well as his parents and extended family who live in the San Gabriel Valley, was known in Cypress as a dedicated family man who volunteered actively in youth sports in the community despite a heavy workload at the hospital.

“He always had a smile on his face, always positive, always upbeat and always very nice,” said Cypress resident Ron Keester, who met Bustamante in 2006 when they were coaches on their daughters’ youth softball team. “He was just a very energetic individual. You could see how much he cared about his family by the amount of time he would spend with his kids. . . . He was a man with a great passion for life.”

Bustamante’s commitment to helping with youth sports went beyond coaching his own children, said Keester’s wife, Ari, who recalled an instance when Bustamante took time out of his Saturday to fill in as a referee for her daughter’s youth soccer game.

“It’s hard to explain to your children what a tragedy it is, that their friends aren’t going to have their dad any more,” said Ari Keester, whose family was often guests of Bustamante at the Charo Chicken restaurant that he co-owned. “I know everybody [in the community] is just devastated. It’s so sad to think of the loss this family has and what a family man that he was, and that these kids aren’t going to have their dad in their life, who adored them.”

A woman answering the phone at the Bustamante residence declined to comment on the tragedy Friday.

In La Cañada Flintridge, where he graduated from St. Francis High in 1980, Bustamante is remembered fondly by members of the Golden Knights family, including current soccer Coach Glen Appels.

“I don’t know if I would have survived without Hugo when I first started coaching at St. Francis, but I know that he loved St. Francis and soccer, and he wanted to help keep the program going,” said Appels, whose coaching staff included Bustamante as an assistant from 1990-93. “We became good friends. He would come back and watch games, and the kids all loved him.”

Bustamante attended Glendale Community College after graduating from high school and transferred to USC. He was the first soccer player from St. Francis to play at the collegiate level, Appels said.

Steve Engel graduated from St. Francis with Bustamante and recalled that even when the two friends had lost touch, it was always a breath of fresh air to hear his voice.

“I just talked to him on Dec. 18, his birthday,” Engel said. “We talked about going to an SC game, we talked about going to a St. Francis game. What happened just destroys me because we were talking about starting to hook up again.

“I was just floored by it. . . . I’m gonna miss him so much.”


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