Criminal justice student shot, dies

Adolfo Flores

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He became a criminal justice major to combat the gang violence he grew up with in the Lennox area and while visiting that very same area he was shot and killed in the early hours of the morning on Saturday.

‘It’s really ironic,’ said Bryant Ortiz his friend and CSUN student. ‘He was studying criminal justice to stop gang violence and then to die from gang violence.’

Fernando Moreno had just arrived at his mother’s house after picking up a friend from a party. After he had parked the truck he was driving, Moreno noticed that it was a little off and reparked it.’ This was one of his pet peeves, said Alexandra Acosta, his girlfriend and mother of his 2-year-old son, Alex.

As he was stepping out of the truck a light-colored car stopped next to him, and it was then that one of the occupants asked Moreno where he was from, Acosta said.

‘He kept saying he wasn’t from anywhere and that he wasn’t into that stuff and then they shot him in the head,’ Acosta said this past Monday, hours after Moreno was taken off life support.

Before speeding away from the scene, the driver identified himself as belonging to a local gang, said Acosta.

Moreno was taken to the UCLA hospital in an ambulance, and after several tests the doctors informed Acosta he was brain-dead. Moreno was taken off life support and died at 7 a.m. Monday morning.

In August, Sheriff Lee Baca said in L.A. County there had been 5,800 deaths due to gang violence.

Ortiz, a junior business finance major, said that despite having grown up in Inglewood, Moreno was never attracted to the gang life.

‘He grew up in a bad part of town and saw past it,’ Ortiz said. ‘When his son was born, he moved out of Lennox.’

Acosta said apart from being noble and caring, he was very smart and committed to not only providing for his family, but receiving a higher education.

He worked full-time at a Chevron gas station in Manhattan Beach and went to school full-time so he was usually only home at night. If he passed all of his classes, Chevron would reimburse his tuition, said Acosta.

‘When the semester was almost over he would be worrying that he wasn’t going to pass his classes.’ He would say ‘Babe, we really need the money,” Acosta said.’ ‘Then he would come home with three A’s and a B that would crack me up.’

Despite his busy schedule, he always made time for his son Alexander, said Acosta.

‘You know how some mothers tell their husbands, ‘do this’ or ‘do that,’ well I never had to do that with Fernando,’ Acosta said. ‘He was the most caring father when he was around him.’

When things would get tough or those around Moreno would get frustrated, he would always say, ‘Life’s a circus,’ Acosta recounted.

For Moreno, she said, a perfect day would be a day spent surfing without a care in the world. Spanish-language soap operas were one of Moreno’s guilty pleasures.

‘Not a lot of people knew and he would be so embarrassed if he knew I told people, but he loved watching novellas together,’ Acosta said. ‘I sometimes missed them on Friday and when I would see him on Saturday he would fill me in.’

Moreno is survived by his 11 brothers and sisters and his mother, Lorena Alvarez. His father passed away when he was 12. Moreno was also the first in his family to go to college.

‘I told him I was very proud of him and that I was sorry I couldn’t help him go to college,’ his mother, Alvarez said. ‘But he told me, ‘It’s okay mom, I’m going to do it and I’m going to work hard.”

When Moreno was 16 he started his first job at McDonald’s. When he wasn’t working, he would volunteer at his school, his mother said, adding that he was always dedicated to school.

‘He would always follow through with his studies and would always give his brothers and sisters advice.’

When Moreno had the choice he loved to eat hand-made tortillas and red enchiladas.

She was proud of the father he became and loved to watch him interact with his son, Alex, because he was always caring and playful, said Alvarez.

Despite the fact that he was in his mid-’20s, he was a kid at heart, Alvarez said. When he would visit her, Moreno would always go outside and play with the kids.

‘He would come in joking and playing,’ Alvarez said. ‘He was always very funny and I’m going to miss that, how could I not?’

Moreno’s family is accepting donations; those who wish to help can contact Bryant Ortiz at sufferdajoy@yahoo.com