Family, friends and Navy shipmates met at the foot of the pier Thursday evening to mourn the loss of Victor Saucedo.
A father, son, brother, friend and U.S. Navy veteran, Saucedo, 31, was shot and killed in his apartment Tuesday allegedly by his ex-girlfriend Vegas Bray, who has been charged with first-degree murder.
About 80 people came together in the place where he would begin his morning run to share their fondest memories of the man they knew as "Sauce."
Saucedo was born on Aug. 12, 1981, in Chicago and came to Imperial Beach by way of the U.S. Navy.
He left the Navy in February to spend more time with his 6-year-old son Jeremiah, said Dominique Hernandez, the child’s mother.
His ex-fiancee, Zulema Reyes, described Saucedo as a person who like to make people feel special.
"He was a hopeless romantic. He never missed a day: Mothers Day, anniversaries, birthdays," she said.
Hernandez called Saucedo "a big kid” who was more excited to go see the newest Disney movie than his son.
“His son was his world,” she said.
“I’m going to make a collage on the wall and discuss his dad everyday,” Hernandez said. “We are still going to do things his dad enjoyed doing with him. I’ll never be able to fill that empty void in my son’s heart of not having his dad, but I’m going to try my best so he never forgets his dad."
Saucedo was attending the University of Phoenix and wanted to get into security or law enforcement. He also had planned to move back to Chicago with his son and Hernandez.
“He was ready to go back home to Chicago,” said his sister Xochitl. “He wanted to restart his life out there with his son and family.”
Saucedo is survived by his mother, Teresa Saucedo; father Antonio Saucedo; brothers, Eric and Tony Saucedo; sister Xochitl; and son Jeremiah.
A memorial fund has been set-up in Victor’s name. If you would like to donate to the Victor C. Saucedo Memorial Fund, provide this account number at Bank of America: 164107146486.
Freshta Kaghazi and Saucedo met 10 years ago and the two were close friends.
She remembers being sick in the hospital with meningitis and Saucedo coming to see her a day after he had surgery. He brought their favorite food, sushi, and refused to wear a mask to prevent infection.
Kaghazi said Bray was stalking her friend for a year and recalls switching cars with Saucedo so she wouldn't follow him.
Saucedo began to fear for his safety and was beginning to get depressed, she said. A few months ago he took out two life insurance policies, Kaghazi said.
"You were living a life looking in your rear view mirror looking to see if someone's coming behind you," she said.
She called Bray "selfish" for taking away someone who meant so much to so many people.
During 12 years in the Navy, Saucedo served aboard the USS Decatur and USS Sampson, where he was a damage controlman.
Patty Mancinas' son Cesar served with Saucedo in the Navy. He was unable to attend Thursday so she read a Facebook post he put on Saucedo’s profile wall.
“I love you and we need you, like we need the blood in our veins,” she read.
Saucedo was always there for his friends, and helped two shipmates who lost their sons, she said after the vigil.
“You know Navy guys don’t like to cry,” he said. “Vic let them know it was alright.”
Mancinas said she can’t understand why Bray or anyone would go to such lengths for a relationship, but has a relative who also obsessed over an ex-boyfriend and is currently in jail for driving a truck into his house.
“People just have to realize that when it’s over, it’s over,” she said.
Maybe something that can be taken away from the tragedy is that people remember to be there for your friends.
“Always have time for your friends, to take that call at 2:30 in the morning, cause it might be the difference between them doing something to themselves or others,” she said.
Barrington Edwards served with Saucedo on the Samson and remembers him as a “fly guy” who loved salsa and hip hop music.
“That's the Chicago in him, you know? You know how Chicago gets down. Real fly. And he'd come in and bring the flavor, with a little salsa to it,” he said.
Chris Haworth was new on the Decatur when they first met. He remembers Saucedo saving him from pink bellies and being nice to him when others weren’t always so welcoming.
“And six years after I got out [of the Navy] I still think of him everyday,” he said.
Haworth said he saw Saucedo at the Naval Exchange two months ago and read him an excerpt of a book he’s writing that has a character based on “Vic.”
He read the same excerpt at the vigil.
“His eyebrows were tweaked and composed into an angle that could be considered both quizzical and menacing. Squeaky clean shell toes, crisp jeans and a Bears jersey completed the outfit. Cool Water cologne finished the product. The son of Chicago was ready for living,” he read.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Chris Haworth's last name is Hayworth and that he met Victor Saucedo aboard the USS Sampson. Haworth and Saucedo met aboard the USS Decatur.