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Remembering Bicycling Victims of Violence, 2012-2018: Juan Angel Perez, and Señores Amezcua, Cardenas, Martinez, Ramirez, Sanchez, Suniga, Trujillo

In this post, we remember eight individuals—a boy and seven men—who were biking when violence  resulted in their deaths.

Photo courtesy of the photographer, Michael Deighton.

The boy, who had no record with the police, was Juan Angel Perez, 16, a student of Everett Alvarez High School.

Juan Angel Perez (1999-2015)

Juan Angel Perez was shot while riding a bicycle on November 1, 2015 just before 9 p.m. He died on the scene. The homicide occurred at the intersection of Sieber Street and Orchard Avenue, Salinas. His death was reported to be the 34th homicide of 2015 in Salinas.

Although Juan Angel Perez had no record with the police, SPD detectives believe suspects seen running from the scene may be involved in gangs. Salinas Police ask that any witnesses contact them, which may be done anonymously; click here for the SPD report and contact info.

If you’ve been reading Bicycling Monterey for some time, you’re likely aware that one focus is youth, including violence prevention and related projects.
Please scroll down for ways you can help Bicycling Monterey or others in this effort.

“Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2013 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24,” was released November 5, 2015. Read local perspectives as reported by Ana Ceballos in the Monterey County Weekly, Claudia Meléndez Salinas in the Monterey County Herald, and Mariana Hicks for KION.

And of course, it’s not just youth who are victims of homicide and other violence.
We also remember the lives of these men.

Joseph Suniga, Jr.

Vicente Hernandez Cardenas

Christian Amezcua

Ernesto Ruiz Martinez

Martin Anthony Trujillo

William Garcia Sanchez

Santiago Ramirez

Each one was shot and killed while bicycling in Monterey County.

Our sympathy to the loved ones of all these individuals.
Bicycling Monterey considers every person who rides a bike in Monterey County to be a part of our county’s bike community.

In addition to the loss of lives, we are saddened that their deaths happened while biking.

For ways that the bike community and others can respond by helping with violence prevention efforts, please scroll down.

Joseph Suniga, Jr. (1985-2018)

Joseph Suniga, Jr., 32, of  Greenfield was shot while riding a bicycle on February 20, 2018. According to KION (2/20/18), Mr. Suniga was riding on Apple Avenue in Greenfield “when a juvenile shot at him.” Police responded to the shooting around 1:20 p.m. The death of Mr. Suniga was reported to be the second homicide of 2018 in Greenfield.

KION also reported that the suspect was himself riding a bike, “a BMX style bicycle.” The suspect was arrested on April 18, 2018, as reported by KSBW that day.

Vicente Hernandez Cardenas (1980-2017)

Vicente Hernandez Cardenas, 37, was shot while riding a bicycle on November 27, 2017 at approximately 8:20 p.m. The homicide occurred at Bellehaven Street and First Avenue, Salinas, in a neighborhood off Williams Road. The death of Mr. Cardenas was reported to be the 28th homicide of 2017 in Salinas and is being investigated as gang related.

Prior to identification, Salinas PD had initially reported that the victim appeared to be “in his early to late 20s.”

Christian Amezcua (c.1994-2017)

Christian Amezcua, 23, was shot while riding a bicycle on July 8, 2017 shortly before midnight. He died at the scene.

The homicide occurred in the 300 block of Williams Road, Salinas. Mr. Amezcua’s death was reported to be the 20th homicide of 2017 in Salinas and is being investigated as gang related.

Ernesto Ruiz Martinez (1980-2015)

Ernest Ruiz Martinez, 35, was shot while riding a bicycle on October 19, 2015 at about 3 p.m. He was taken to a local hospital, and on October 20, Salinas Police were notified by the hospital that Mr. Martinez had died of his injuries.

The homicide occurred in the 1400 block of Garner Avenue, Salinas. Mr. Martinez’s death was reported to be the 33rd homicide of 2015 in Salinas.

Martin Anthony Trujillo (1979-2015)

Martin Anthony “Grassman” Trujillo, 35, was shot on May 16, 2015 about 11:57 p.m. apparently while riding a bicycle, as reported in the Californian. He was taken to Natividad Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries.

The homicide occurred on West Powell at Rossi Streets in Salinas.

William Garcia Sanchez (1977-2012)

William “Billy” Garcia Sanchez, 34, was shot and killed on a bicycle on October 4, 2012, near Archer Avenue and Villa Street, Salinas. Read a related story by Julia Reynolds in the Monterey County Herald, October 29, 2012.

Santiago Ramirez (1985-2012) 

Santiago Ramirez, 26, was shot and killed on a bicycle on April 5, 2012 at Alma Avenue at Second Avenue, Salinas.  Santiago was asked by occupants of a vehicle what his gang affiliation was before he was shot.  He was pronounced dead a short time later at Natividad Medical Center. The Salinas Californian reported it was the city’s fourth gang-related homicide in a month.

As reported by KSBW, as of November 26, 2012, the deaths of Mr. William Garcia Sanchez and Mr. Santiago Ramirez were among 18 homicides in the Salinas for 2012.

* * *

Please support efforts to create safer, more peaceful communities, and to show solidarity with all who bike Monterey County, including biking in Salinas. Salinas has over one-third of the population of our entire county.
Whether people bike for transportation, recreation, fitness and health, sport, work, to reduce carbon emissions, or just for social rides and fun, any person who rides a bike–for any reason–is part of the bike community. And we want to help make Monterey County a better place to bike for each one of them.

Here are some of the many ways to help create safer, healthier communities.

First, here are some bike-related ways to help…
  1. Support the Monterey County Probation Department Youth Center bike class. This class, located in Salinas, serves boys ages 14-17 who come from all over Monterey County. Many (but not all)  boys at the Youth Center have been gang involved. This class is the first high school bike tech class in the county. Its sixth year began April 2017. Help is needed teaching bike repair, doing administrative tasks, contributing supplies, or otherwise supporting the class. See “Teach Teens Well” or just contact Mari to learn more.
  2. In the Teach Teens Well” post, learn about a new outreach at the Youth Center that began fall 2015: Bike Night. This activity provides a bike ed opportunity for boys who cannot be in Youth Center bike class. Contact Mari if you’d like to provide a raffle prize, suggest a favorite resource, or support this project in another way.
  3. Attend and otherwise support Monterey County’s Open Streets, Ciclovia Salinas. As now-retired Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin stated prior to the inaugural event, (see Californian newsclip here), “I truly believe that a successful Ciclovia can bring some real healing to our troubled streets.” On Ciclovia dates, residents and visitors can walk, bike, skateboard, dance, roll in a wheelchair, or otherwise move about on car-free streets. A youth-led initiative, Ciclovia Salinas is “Where the streets are yours!” The dates are a chance to reclaim the streets for people-powered transportation and other healthy activities while building stronger community connections. They also provide a way to bridge sections of the city that often feel separated, and to encourage visitors who may have missed the heart of Steinbeck Country.
  4. See “Salinas youth and others for bikes:  Bikes make life better” to see a sampling of ways to help. Contact Mari for other ideas.Bicycling advocates can organize or otherwise support bike rodeos, bike skills classes, recreational ridesbike polo games, bike race teams, and other fun, healthy, community-building activities.
Also consider supporting the efforts of groups such as:

Champion of Change Fernanda Ocana, at age 19, was honored by the White House–along with Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin–for youth violence prevention work. Contact Fernanda or Kelly  for more ideas.

Among related info that may be of interest is the following published on the website Better Bike Share: Silent barriers to bicycling, part II: Fear of crime among Blacks and Latinos


This post was first published April 23, 2012 and has been partially updated.

This post was published on 20 February 2018. One or more changes last made to this post on 19 April 2018.

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