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Family of Man Killed Near Belmont High Seeks Answers

Rampart police have few clues in the shooting death of Juan Jose Barajas--a 41-year-old father of four--- early Saturday morning outside his apartment.

Family and Friends Gather to Say Mass for Juan Jose Barajas

Early Monday evening, Fatima Barajas is sitting with cousins and friends who also come from Michoacan, where her father and uncle were born.

Their chairs push up against the beds in the room that doubles as a living and sleeping area in the family's apartment.

The mass for her father, will begin shortly in the backyard.

A priest from Immaculate Conception Catholic Church will lead it.

Daughter Is the Eldest of Four Children

Fatima, 17, is a senior at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex near downtown Los Angeles.

She is a star student.

Her brother Juan, 14, also attends Miguel Contreras.

Her two younger sisters do not yet attend school.

Fatmina recognizes me from the recent Echo Park Holiday Parade, where she marched and performed with the Miguel Contreras Drill Team.

Fatima speaks for mother Maricruz today, who is in the kitchen cooking.

Family Is Confused About Motive for Killing

Fatima tells me that there is nothing about her father's death that makes sense.

He was not affiliated with a gang and has lived 25 years in the neighborhood just south of Belmont High since he and his father came to America.

It is an immigrant neighborhood plagued by gang violence. But Fatima says her father never was part of the gangs or the violence.

Barajas worked as a cashier in the Farmers Insurance headquarters cafeteria at 4680 Wilshire Blvd. to support his family.

His mother, father and brother also live nearby.

They all attend Immaculate Conception catholic church on 9th Street.

Friends from the church have helped set up a shrine at one end of the concrete backyard behind the apartment on Witmer Street where the Barajas famiy lives.

There are also rows of chairs--many already filled--as people file in for the mass that will soon begin.

Family and Friends Have Been Gathering Since Saturday

According to Fatima, folks have been gathering since Saturday, consoling the family members, and bringing food and prayer.

She says her mother went by the Rampart station earlier Monday, but didn't have much new news to bring back.

According to Sgt. Quintero, a homicide detectives at Rampart, officers have been in neighborhood interviewing and observing, but no suspect or motive has been identified.

He says officers are as shocked about the killing too.

Meantime, Fatima, her mother, her brother and her sisters will spend Christmas with their uncle, who lives just one street over on Lucas.

If you have information to share, you can call Chris Linscomb, the detective in charge of the case,  at (213) 484-3642.

An earlier version of this story stated that Juan Jose Barajas worked at All State insurance. We stand corrected. It was Farmers, as the article now reflects.

nicole December 20, 2011 at 03:12 PM
How sad for this family. I hope they find some solace and answers.
trd December 21, 2011 at 07:56 AM
This is extremely sad. I knew Juan. I bought coffee from him just about every day. He worked extremely hard at a far from glorious job, and I always respected him for it. I never knew he had a family, and knowing that now that makes this even worse. I also never took the time to engage him in much conversation, and now I won't get the chance.
js December 21, 2011 at 07:01 PM
I also worked in the same building as Juan. He was by far the nicest guy I have ever met. This is a tragedy. Whoever is responsible for this deserves to rot in hell for taking this good man away from his family, his children. We here at Farmers Insurance are all thinking about you Juan. Youre in our hearts.
rm December 21, 2011 at 10:39 PM
We are all going to miss Juan very much. He was such a warm and caring person, high energy, and always, ALWAYS smiling. I hope the person or persons who took this man's life away get what's coming to them.
Anthea Raymond (Editor) December 21, 2011 at 10:44 PM
@rm Do you know if there's anything the company is doing/can do to help the family, especially at this time of year?
rm December 21, 2011 at 11:07 PM
Yes, Farmers has setup a fund for Juan and his family. For those wishing to make a donation, a special account has been established at the Farmers Credit Union. Please send your donations to the Juan Barajas Family Fund 150488 S1 JUA. Credit union members can donate online through PCTied Services.
Anthea Raymond (Editor) December 21, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Thanks for this information. Here is the LA Times story on the mass for Juan Jose mentioned in this article: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-father-killed-20111221,0,3145697.story
ML December 25, 2011 at 09:36 AM
Juan was the first person I would talk to in the early morning, every day. He was the most gentle, kind and touching person you can imagine. With the help of a few co workers we put up a web site to help his family, please pass this on: www.barajasfamilyfund.org

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