The mother of a 22-year-old man who was shot and killed at a birthday party in East Palo Alto on Oct. 14 is frustrated by the lack of progress in arresting his assailant.
Eduardo "Lalo" Alvarado Sandoval, of Stockton, the only son and youngest child of Veronica Sandoval, was killed in the early morning hours by an as-yet-unnamed assailant who also allegedly killed another man, 23-year-old Mario Andres Vidales Mendez of Redwood City, and injured two others, including Sandoval's nephew.
In an interview Wednesday with the Weekly, Veronica Sandoval said she doesn't understand why a suspect has not been arrested, since the shootings were in plain view of many people and she has told the police the alleged assailant's name.
"Everybody knows who it is — everybody knows who shot him," she said.
The party at A-1 Auto Services and Towing was by invitation only, but three people tried to crash the gathering where two arguments broke out, she said. The first involved two women; the second involved Sandoval's son and a friend of the alleged shooter, she said. No one has told her any details about the reason for the argument.
"It's frustrating that they didn't make an arrest yet. Everybody saw that he shot. Some saw what car they have. I just want to know — even if they didn't make the arrest yet — at least I want them to tell me where the shooter is at," she said.
East Palo Alto police do have leads, Cmdr. Jeff Liu said.
"It's just a matter of time, but we always need more witnesses," he said in an email to the Weekly. He confirmed that investigators are looking into whether a person of interest might have fled to Mexico. But that should not prevent the public from coming forward with information.
"We need people who were at the party to come in and provide a statement. Those who saw the shooting should also do the same and identify the shooter," he said.
Sandoval said her nephew, who was shot in the stomach and shoulder near his neck, was in the hospital for a month. He suffered injuries to his internal organs and makes frequent hospital visits.
Her son had been living in East Palo Alto with his sister for a time and had worked jobs in hardware stores, including Home Depot in Stockton and East Palo Alto, and at a Lowe's. He found another job less than a month ago as a forklift operator in a warehouse, which he loved, but he was on leave because he broke his hand in a motorcycle accident, she said.
Veronica Sandoval said her son lived with her in Stockton during his recovery. On the day of the shooting, he had asked his mother to drive him to the party in East Palo Alto. At first, she declined because she had to go to work. But she felt guilty because he was stuck at home alone, so she drove him to the party and planned to pick him up after her night shift. Just as her shift ended at 5:30 a.m., she received a phone call that her son had been shot, she said.
Veronica Sandoval said she is hurting all of the time. She said she raised Eduardo to stay out of trouble and to avoid gangs and drugs.
"He was a really quiet kid. He was not involved in any kind of illegal stuff," she said.
She received some help to cover her son's cremation and funeral expenses, she added.
"I keep his ashes with me. The way I feel, like a mother, I know he is with me," she said.
Since her son's death, Sandoval has not been able to work at her job as an assistant manager of a 7-Eleven store. In her job in customer service, she can't face the patrons, and she knows that isn't good for the business, she said.
"Everybody knows me and I always have a smile. But if they ask me about what happened, I'm going to start crying. I just stay home for now," she said.
Anyone who witnessed the shooting or has any information is urged to contact the East Palo Alto Police Department by calling Det. Lydia Cardoza at 650-853-7249; sending an anonymous email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or sending an anonymous text or voicemail to 650-409-6792.