Candlelight Vigil For Teacher Killed

By Tony Shin
|  Saturday, Feb 12, 2011  |  Updated 10:03 AM PDT
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Friends and family held a candlelight vigil Friday night at a school in South park where <a title=Gabriel Vanegas taught first grade." />

Friends and family held a candlelight vigil Friday night at a school in South park where Gabriel Vanegas taught first grade.

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Teacher's Family Embraced by Students

Homicide investigators met with the family of a teacher who died Feb. 6 in a scuffle with an off-duty deputy. As detectives try to sort it all out, family members of Gabriel Vanegas are getting an outpouring of support from his first grade students.
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Dozens of people stood in a circle outside McGill School of Success on Friday night.

They gathered to hold candles and talk about a teacher who left a lasting impression on just about everyone he met, 33-year old Gabriel Vanegas.

"Because of him I pushed myself more to be a teacher,"said a former co-worker.

"He was loved by everyone,"said McGill Principal Deborah Huggins.  "He would take the kids to the park, he would paint their faces, he was wonderful."

That's what baffles people who knew him.  It doesn't seem anyone ever saw Vanegas be violent to anyone.

But on Sunday night, San Diego County Sheriff's investigators said it appears Vanegas got violent with his ex-girlfriend Janet Tiznado, who's also the mother of one of his two-year old sons.

Lt. Dennis Brugos said Vanegas was dropping off his son with Tiznado at her El Cajon home when she confronted him about his reckless driving.

Tiznado claims Vanegas was "trying to push her into his truck", Brugos said.

Tiznado's current boyfriend, an off duty sheriff's deputy came out to help her along with her 16 year old brother.

Brugos said the deputy got Vanegas into a "bear hug" to restrain him.  At some point, the 16 year old brother hit Vanegas.

Vanegas and the off duty deputy fell onto the ground with the deputy taking the brunt of the fall.  Vanegas was unconsious and later died at the hospital.

"I refuse to believe that he was in anyway trying to harm her,"said Laura Munera.  She is the mother of Vanegas' other two year old son.

Munera believes the deputy and Tiznado's teen brother over-reacted and got too aggressive with Vanegas.

Vanegas will be buried on Saturday at a cemetery in Chula Vista.  No charges have been filed in the case, but it is still under investigation.

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