Friends of police officer Laura Perez want to make sure her daughter has a bright future, despite her mother’s violent death.
The Escondido Police Department has created a trust fund for 4-year-old Suzeth and her immediate family. On Sunday, officers and recruits held a car wash and raised $12,000, exceeding their goal by $2,000.
“The goal is to have enough money in that fund to not only have enough money for the cost of living and the things that Suzeth will need throughout her life, but to have enough money that in 14 years when she's reaching the age to go to college, she doesn't have to worry about that, that's completely covered,” said Det. Juliette Barnes with the Escondido Police Department.
The 25-year-old officer’s body was found inside a storage locker in Moreno on July 24, one day her Murrieta home was set on fire. Her husband, Freddy Perez-car washhas been charged with murder. Police say he shot his wife three times.
The news shook the Escondido Police Department and Palomar Police Academy to its core.
“I spoke with him [Perez-Rodas.] Never in a million years I would've thought that this would, something like this would happen between them," said Emmanuel Boyd, Class Sergeant for Palomar Police Academy 22, who went through the academy with Perez.
The family eventually moved to Boyd’s neighborhood where they became even closer.
“She was like my sister, and it was so surreal to me that she was gone,” Boyd said.
Boyd and other recruits organized the car wash to make sure Suzeth is taken care of financially. They say she may have lost her mother, but she has gained a family.
“My heart breaks as a mom to know how much Laura loved her daughter and that she's not going to be here to see her grow up,” Barnes said. “Her daughter is the spitting image of her and is such a sweet, loving little girl, and that's a testament of the kind of mother Laura was."
The group plans to hold another carwash at a Shell gas station in Escondido at the end of August.
Earlier this month, Sami Ahmed Saeed, 25, was charged with creating a fake fundraising website in the name of Officer Laura Perez.