A tragedy occurred in an unincorporated part of Gardena, California, when 34-year-old fruit vendor Severino Gutierrez Valez, known to the community by his nickname Elias, was shot and killed in front of his 7-year-old daughter by two men who then took all of Gutierrez Valez’s money and fled the scene.

The shooting occurred around 6 p.m. last Thursday, according to CBS Los Angeles. Gutierrez Valez was rushed to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. The local community has rallied around his family, organizing a vigil for the deceased vendor and contributing to a GoFundMe which has raised more than $15,000 in the last two days.

Loading the player...

Fox News reports that officers responded to Rosencrans Avenue, between Main Street and San Pedro Street, and found Gutierrez Valez lying on the ground, accompanied by his daughter, who was in touch with her mother to inform her that her father had been attacked.

“I think it’s kind of senseless that anybody would harm a vendor,” said one of Gutierrez Valez’s longtime customers. “It’s just sad. Somebody has to lose their life in the middle of trying to feed their family.” Immediately following the attack, it was Gutierrez Valez’s daughter, Sammy, who called for help and notified her mother that her father had been gunned down. As of two days ago, Sammy still did not know her father had passed away.

In addition to mourning Gutierrez Valez’s death, other vendors in the area have raised concerns about their own safety. A nearby vendor named Ilene Romero, who sells tamales on the same block where Gutierrez Valez had his fruit stand, was previously unaware of how dangerous the area could be, noting that she often runs her tamale stand with either her mother or father.

Investigators still have no potential leads on suspects but are holding out hope that surveillance footage from a nearby Bank of America will assist in tracking down Gutierrez Valez’s killers. In the meantime, local community activist Edin Enamorado is urging local vendors to take proactive steps to guarantee their safety, reports KTLA 5.

Enamorado is a reformed convict and community leader who has been working with local vendors for the last few years to establish safety precautions, self-defense mechanisms, and cash alternatives like Zelle and Venmo to reduce the number of vendor-related robberies that occur each year.

In a recent Instagram post, Enamorado explained that he’d been working closely with Gutierrez Valez’s survivors as they endure their unimaginable loss. He wrote about street vendors across the state and country, saying, “They are human, they have a life. They are loved.” Another post from March 2021 shows Enamorado equipping vendors with pepper spray and tasers.

Gutierrez Valez’s death is one of multiple instances of street vendors being murdered in the last week, alone. In Palestine, a fruit vendor named Diaa Albyra’i was killed in an Israeli air strike on Sunday morning. In Italy, a local man beat a Nigerian fruit vendor to death in broad daylight.