By CJ Gronner
Venice lost one of our own on the night of November 17th when Guillermo Carmona-Perez was brutally stabbed and left to die in the intersection at Washington Boulevard and Pacific Avenue. Carmona-Perez, an employee of both Mercede’s Grille and Baja Cantina, had just gotten off work at Mercede’s, stopped off to pick up some beers, and was walking to his home a few blocks away. He never made it.
Without a suspect in custody, everyone is piecing together what happened, but it seems that as Carmona-Perez was walking through the dark alley on Anchorage, he was attacked with a blunt instrument and stabbed twice behind the Yoga Nest. It must have happened so fast that he didn’t even realize how bad it was for him to try to keep walking, as he was found collapsed on Washington. He still had his paycheck, his own kitchen knife wrapped up, and even his beers on him, so robbery does not appear to be the motive. Just straight up sick, pointless evil.
I spoke to lifelong Venice resident, and Carmona-Perez’s boss, Mercede Ahrablou about this nightmare. “Memo (as they called him) was ALL about his wife and baby son. He was incredibly shy, and so non-confrontational, he’s the kind of guy that would just keep walking if someone said something … A life has been lost, but the way I feel is it’s also a loss of community. The freedom of safety is gone when stuff like this happens. We NEED to pay attention. We NEED to protect each other.” Absolutely. Some people heard screams that night, and ignored it … Do we dismiss things because we live here, and “that’s just Venice”? No. With all the change going down in town, we have a responsibility to each other to be there, to try and help. THAT is – or should be – just Venice.
What IS Venice is the outpouring of support, emotion and financial help that has flooded in. Ahrablou said, “I could sit and use every positive, kind word there is, but words can’t even describe it.” Contributions have POURED in, from some over 100 local businesses and artists wanting to help in any way they can. Fundraisers have been held at both Mercede’s Grille and Baja Cantina, with the goal of $10,000 (to help pay for funeral and life expenses for Carmona-Perez’s wife, Miriam and their baby son) met, above and beyond. Complete strangers packed in to Mercede’s Grille for a silent auction to help out yet another little boy who will not know his father. One teenaged boy brought a book that he said he was so inspired by, he wanted the baby to grow up having it. The owners of the former 12 Washington restaurant came back and donated $1,000. The Dodgers donated a ball signed by the team, and The Lakers donated tickets. So many items and services were offered up for the family of Carmona-Perez that some still remain, and may become an online silent auction. As Ahrablou said, “Some positive has to come out of this, and I’ve been just blown away. People take it very seriously, and people CARE.”
Amid all the bad that people complain about, Venice and its people are intrinsically GOOD. Let us work together to improve things, so this kind of heinous crime is harder to commit. Places need to be better lit. There needs to be an easier working communication with the LAPD so that people will want to call and offer help, instead of not wanting to get involved. The city is offering a $50,000 reward to anyone who can offer information leading to the capture of the poisonous individual responsible for this awful murder. Anyone knowing anything needs to call (213) 382-9470 and get – and keep – this person off our streets.
Anytime anything like this happens, everyone talks about it and comes out to help right away, but we need the caring to LAST. Watch out for each other. Help each other. Care.
By CJ Gronner