Family of man shot to death near Los Angeles River seeks answers

Nearly 3,000 miles away from where his sibling was shot to death in Long Beach last month, Francisco Martinez Garcia lies awake each night thinking about his older brother Isidro.

Francisco said he hasn’t slept much since he received the news, instead thinking about why someone would want to harm his brother.

“Estamos muy mal,” Francisco, 29, told the Post in a phone call from Guatemala. “El era may buena persona.” We are doing very bad. He was such a good person. 

On the night of July 19, Isidro Alberto Martinez Garcia, 37, was shot in the pelvis near where Pacific Coast Highway crossed over the Los Angeles River, police said. Despite attempts by authorities to save Isidro, he died at the hospital.

Police have not yet identified a suspect or a motive in the shooting.

“Tenia plañado viajar en diciembre a los Estados Unidos. … Yo quiera verlo y abrazarlo,” said Francisco, who hadn’t seen his brother in 16 years. “Es lo que mas me duelo porque yo no pude cumplir eso.” I had plans to travel in December to the United States. … I wanted to see him and hug him. That’s what hurts me the most because I couldn’t fulfill that. 

For as long as he can remember, Francisco looked up to Isidro.

“El me protegia,” a grieving Francisco said. He protected me.

Born Oct. 9, 1984, Idisdro had a humble upbringing, his brother said.

The two brothers grew up in Nueva Concepción, Escuintla, Guatemala, a small town with just over 15,000 people. In Nueva Concepción most people worked in agriculture while other locals took to street vending to make ends meet.

“Es muy lamentable en la circunstancias que se vive aquí en Guatemala,” said Francisco, who as an adult now works as a street vendor selling snacks around town. The circumstances we live under here in Guatemala are very unfortunate.

From the time he was 10 years old, Isidro would venture out into town looking for any way that he could help alleviate his parent’s financial burdens, Francisco said.

He really enjoyed hunting and fishing, Francisco said. It was his way of making sure the family always had food on the table, he added. But one side hustle in particular, cockfighting, became Isidro’s favorite, said his brother, who’d watch as Isidro raised the little hatchlings.

When time permitted, Isidro took Francisco down to the local river. There, they’d splash around and bathe. On other days, they’d spend time chasing after one another and playing soccer.

Though he dreamed of being a lawyer one day, Isidro had to pursue other endeavors to help support his family, according to his brother. By the time he was 20, his reputation around the community grew. People around town knew if a kitchen appliance needed to be fixed, Isidro was the guy to go to. He had also become a father.

But due to the lack of opportunities in Nueva Concepción, he decided to go to the U.S., Francisco said.

On March 10, 2006, a 22-year-old Isidro arrived in Miami. He stayed there for three months with an uncle-in-law while he settled in before he moved across the country to Long Beach, his family said.

During his first few months, Francisco would call Isidro, urging him to be careful as he was living in the U.S. without permission. Isidro, always the optimist, would reassure his younger brother that everything would be fine and that he had nothing to worry about.

After settling in Long Beach, he worked as a construction worker and a gardener, often sending part of his paycheck to his family back home in Guatemala, where the money was used for his father’s diabetes treatment, Francisco said.

Since Isidro’s death, his father has taken a turn for the worse, Francisco said, along with the rest of the family who is still trying to process their loved one’s death.

Meanwhile, neighbors in Guatemala have rallied around the Martinez Garcia family, offering their condolences and promising that they would take care of all the proceedings once Isidro’s body was returned home to Guatemala, Francisco said.

Francisco recalls his brother’s giving nature, still trying to fathom his unexpected passing.

“La verdad no sabemos nada ni por qué le pudo pasar esto,” Francisco said. The truth is we don’t know anything or why this could’ve happened to him.

Police have asked anyone with information that could help solve Isidro’s murder to contact Detectives Michael Hubbard or Jesus Espinoza at 562-570-7244. Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-TIPS or visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.

Authorities identify man killed in shooting near Los Angeles River

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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