Things That Matter

Police Arrest Family Member For Arson In San Diego House Fire That Killed Three, Hospitalized Two

We’ve seen countless of true crime stories in which families are horrifically killed in their homes. Whether they were killed in an accident, or while being robbed, there’s just no way to make sense of these awful crimes. What makes these crimes worse is when someone close to the family commits the crime against their loved ones. That’s what family and friends are dealing with this week in San Diego — now that a suspect has been arrested in connection with a fatal crime against an entire family. 

San Diego Police have arrested  26-year-old Wilber Romero in connection to a house fire that killed his father, mother, and sister.

Credit: ABC 10 News / YouTube

On Oct. 13, just before 5 a.m., a house fire tore through the home of the Romero family in Logan Heights in San Diego, California. Initially, only one person pronounced dead at the scene. The rest of the family members were taken to the hospital.

In the end, the Romero family lost their 44-year-old Jose Antonio Romero, his wife 46-year-old Nicalasa Maya-Romero, and their daughter, 21-year-old sister Iris “Krystal” Romero.  Another younger brother, 16-year-old Angel, and sister 23-year-old Wendy remain in the hospital, but both are expected to be released soon. 

Their eldest son, Wilber, escaped the fire unharmed and was interviewed by news outlets in which he said he tried to rescue his family. He also denied any involvement in the crime.

Credit: CBS8 / YouTube

“My dogs were jumping on me, trying to wake me up. I woke up. When I woke up, my bed was on fire,” Wilber said to ABC10. “I jumped out of bed and started screaming the house is on fire.”

A day after investigators interviewed him, Wilber said that he didn’t have anything to do with the fire that killed his mother, father, and sister.  He said he would have never committed such a crime against his own family.  “You can lock me up, but you’re not going to take me in for me to say this: ‘I did it,'” he said directly into the camera in an interview with CBS8. “I’m not going to say it because I didn’t do it.”

Witnesses also say they saw people trying to escape the house, but the windows had protective bars on them. The flames were too intense for anyone to go inside to help the family.

Credit: ABC 10 News / YouTube

Iris “Krystal” Romero, 21, died days later in the hospital due to her sustained injuries. According to new reports, Krystal used herself as a shield to protect her younger brother. Wendy Romero survived the fire but is in critical condition in the hospital. Media reports say that she tried to break free with so much intent that she broke her fingers. 

“I thought it was like a scary movie,” Jamie Felix, a family friend who witnessed the fire, told a local NBC News affiliate. “I thought it was a nightmare, honestly. I’m just like, ‘This is not real. This is not really happening.'” Wilber seemed to be lucky to have survived the fire unharmed. 

The Greater Antioch Church of God In Christ, which is located next to the Romero home, held a vigil for the family even though they did not attend the church. Wilber was also in attendance and according to NBC News San Diego, he thanked everyone for their support. However, police now say he is the lead suspect in the crime after investigators questioned him. 

Wilber is now facing charges of arson, first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Credit: GoFundMe

“It’s tragic,” Lauren Garibay, a family friend, told the San Diego Tribune. “Right now, we are wrapping our heads around it. It’s unbelievable.”

Over the weekend, family and friends gathered in front of the Romero home to raise money for funeral costs and the orphaned children with car wash fundraisers. They have also launched a Gofundme account and are asking for $30,000. So far, they have almost $17,000. 

I donated because my heart breaks for the surviving family members and I pray the Lord gives them the strength to get through the days ahead by His love and the love of the people around them,” a commenter wrote on their Gofundme age. 

News reports say the Romero family had lived in San Diego for 15 years and are originally from Guerrero, Mexico. 

Credit: GoFundMe

“They’re good people. Like everybody around the neighborhood knows them. They’re, like, known around here. They’re just decent, good, regular human being people,” their neighbor Jamie Felix told NBC News San Diego

If you’d like to help the Romero family with funeral costs, click here

READ: A City Claims A Family Can’t Sue Over A Wrongful Death Because Undocumented People Don’t Have Rights Under Constitution

This Latina Mom Moved Her Family From A Garage to An Apartment And The Tears Are Streaming

Things That Matter

This Latina Mom Moved Her Family From A Garage to An Apartment And The Tears Are Streaming

@meydii_ / Twitter

As many of us map out, work toward, and realize our dreams in this new year, a Latina mom literally gave her children a new lease on life when she showed them the new apartment they would be living in. Up until then, the family of three lived in a garage. On Jan. 1, 2020, Ana Manzo gave her children a tour of their new, empty apartment, not knowing her daughter Meydi was recording the entire reaction. Meydi’s brother walked around excitedly, smiled when he saw the bedroom and immediately started sobbing. Now, Latino Twitter is taking it upon themselves to relate to the lows and highs and ensure the Manzo family will struggle just a little bit less.

Meydi decided to film the momentous moment that their family had been saving for over the last 7 years.

CREDIT: @MEYDII_ / TWITTER

“After more then 7 years living in a small garage that was the only thing my mom could afford, we finally got a small apartment, this was my little brothers reaction,” Meydi Manzo captioned the viral video that now has over 4 million views. It seems like both Meydi and her mom expected to see a happy reaction from her brother, but didn’t expect the tears. When her brother walks into what looks like a one-bedroom apartment, a big grin swallows up his face. Then, he starts to cry, taking a sleeve to his face to dry his tears as Mama Ana gives him a big hug and asks why he’s crying. Anyone who has been there already knows why he’s crying. “It’s okay to cry papi 💕,” offers one Twitter user. 

Another offers her experience, tweeting, “This is so beautiful to see! It’s an incredible feeling.
When I was younger I lived in a small room with 3 of my other siblings and my parents. It makes you humble… but keep grinding for that better life!!” 

After the video went viral, Meydi took the opportunity to offer a lesson in gratitude.

CREDIT: @MEYDII_ / TWITTER

“Hi we didn’t expect this to blow up the way that it did, but thank you so much to everyone for your kind words,” she tweeted, adding that her brother has read all the comments and “is beyond happy that this blew up.” For the Manzo family, this moment is all about gratitude. “Those seven years in the garage have taught us to be thankful and to appreciate everything and anything we have,” she said in a follow-up tweet. “The simplest things, we may not have much but we have each others’ love no matter how much me and my brother fight lol,” Meydi added. 

If you’re not crying yet, just wait.

Meydi has a message for those of you who are in similar situations.

CREDIT: ANA MANZO / FACEBOOK

“For those of you in similar situations, it gets better, and god is good,” Meydi tweeted. She says that her mom “is overwhelmed with feelings” because Meydi has been reading everyone’s comments to her and vows to continue to read every message of support and pass it on to her mother. “She promised us she would keep us moving forward no matter what and she has done nothing but keep that promise true,” Meydi said. “Hug your parents and remind them how thankful you are for everything they do for you and everything they have given you no matter how little it is,” Meydi offers in her final message of hope and gratitude. “Sending love and blessings to you all, thank you once again.”

So many people asked Meydi for ways they could help that she started a GoFundMe that has raised over $3k for the Manzo family.

CREDIT: ANA MANZO / FACEBOOK

“A lot of people were asking how they could help and I couldn’t think of another way,” Meydi said in the GoFundMe, adding, “my mom is a little tight on money and I hate asking others for stuff like money, but I think this would lift a weight off her chest with the upcoming bills.” In less than 24 hours, Twitter has raised at least two month’s rent for the Manzo family, with folks donating from all over the world.

So many folks felt the tears that Meydi’s brother shed because they had been there too and were in a place to donate. “I grew up not having a lot and I know what It feels like. I cried when I saw your little brother cry. I hope this help a lot, one donor who gave $100 said in a GoFundMe comment. 

May Mama Ana Manzo’s besitos give you all the bendiciones you need to reach your goals this new year.

READ: A Twitter User Shared His Cousin’s ‘Rebelde’-Themed Going Away Party And Latinos Were Here For It

After Tekashi69 Cooperated With Authorities Against His Gang He Now Fears Spending Time In Prison

Entertainment

After Tekashi69 Cooperated With Authorities Against His Gang He Now Fears Spending Time In Prison

6ix9ine / Instagram

Rapper Tekashi69 may have been sentenced to two years in prison last month, but he’s already petitioned the judge presiding over his case to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement for fear of his life. Tekashi, born Daniel Hernandez, was initially facing 37 years in prison, for firearms, racketeering, shootings, and robbery charges. His cooperation in taking down his own gang, the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, reduced his prison sentence to two years. However, this means that Hernandez was transferred from a federal jail to a private prison alongside “various members of the Bloods,” according to Hernandez’s attorney, Lance Lazzaro, in a motion to modify Hernandez’s prison sentence. The term “snitches get stitches” is gang culture canon for a reason and Hernandez’s cooperation ensured the conviction of two Nine Trey gang members, a Bloods gang.

Now, Lazzaro is trying to get Hernandez out of prison by emphasizing that “Hernandez’s safety is still, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, seriously at risk.”

Daniel Hernandez, a.k.a. Tekashi69, hoped that his cooperation would warrant his immediate release from custody after pleading guilty to his charges.

CREDIT: 6IX9INE / INSTAGRAM

Judge Paul A. Engelmayer spoke directly to Hernandez in the courtroom last month when he told him, “Your conduct was too violent, too sustained, too destructive, too selfish, and too reckless with respect to public safety to make a sentence of 13 months at all reasonable,” according to The New York Times. Hernandez pleaded guilty to several shootings and robberies and appeared genuinely remorseful at his hearing. At one point, one of his victims testified about her experience of being shot by Hernandez. “I know I was wrong,” he reportedly said through tears. “I was weak. I was easily influenced. I can’t believe that was me. Again, your honor, there is no apology good enough.”

When Hernandez read his statement to the court, he spotted the father he hadn’t seen in over a decade in the crowd.

CREDIT: 6IX9INE / INSTAGRAM

Hernandez, 23, was giving his measured statement to the court when he visibly started to get emotional. Hernandez told Judge Engelmayer that he just noticed his biological father, who abandoned his family when Hernandez was in third grade, in the audience. The man confirmed and requested that he take the podium but Engelmayer told him that he “squandered” that right “many, many years ago.” 

The man and performer we knew as Tekashi69 has seemed to evolve during his court proceedings. Up until his arrest, Hernandez routinely rapped about gang life and his disdain for the law. Just one day after his arrest, however, he started “snitching” to the federal government on the Bloods.

The judge has described his cooperation as “game-changing” and “brave,” but it also makes him a serious target.

CREDIT: @ALMIGHTYJOKA / TWITTER

“As the court is well aware, Rolland Martin, a co-conspirator convicted in Hernandez’s case, was almost killed in a Bureau of Prisons facility, not for cooperating with the government, but for merely renouncing his membership in the gang,” Lazzaro told the court. Hernandez has not only renounced the gang but has “provided the government with critical insight into the structure and organization of Nine Trey” prosecutors stated in a court document meant to seek leniency in his sentencing. 

“Your cooperation was impressive. It was game-changing. It was complete and it was brave,” Judge Engelmayer told Hernandez during his sentencing, saying his cooperation “brought out the best in you, and you should be proud of yourself for it.” Since the government understands that Hernandez’s cooperation necessitates a lifetime of looking over their shoulders, his sentence has been reduced. With is safety in mind, he was sent to a private facility meant to provide extra security from Blood members. That very security measure may prove to be an obstacle in granting him early release into home confinement.

Now, Hernandez is seeking early release or to be transferred to a community correctional facility (CCC).

Credit: @ACAMBACANI / TWITTER

If his safety wasn’t a consideration, Hernandez would have been committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons until he was eligible for early release or a CCC. However, his cooperation with the government has imposed such a danger on his life, the Court sentenced him to a private facility without as much danger. Still, Lazzaro says that such accommodation has robbed him of the ability for an early release.

“Given the sensitive nature of his testimony as a government witness and his celebrity status, my client will have to take extreme measures for both the security of himself and his family for quite possibly the rest of their lives,” Lazzaro said, implying that a life sentence from a violent gang has already been assigned to Hernandez. 

Hernandez has declined the government’s offer of being placed in witness protection and says he wants to continue making music. In fact, just weeks before his trial, he signed a $10 million record deal. Today, he says he’s thinking of the children who have looked up to him to become an example of someone who can turn their life around.

READ: Tekashi69’s Undocumented Driver Cooperated With Federal Authorities To Avoid Being Deported