The home of the mother who was allegedly shot and killed by her husband last week in City Heights was burglarized the morning after the tragedy, and some stolen goods may have been pawned at a shop on the same block.
Julia Maria Serrano Avila, 29, was killed in a shooting on Dec. 5 that was being investigated by San Diego police as a case of domestic violence. Her husband, 28-year-old Fernando Avila, was arrested and pleaded not guilty on Monday.
Several electronic devices, most of them belonging to the couple’s two kids, were stolen from the home the following morning, according to the victim’s family.
Those items may have then been taken to the Monte De Piedad pawn shop, just a couple doors down from where she was gunned down. The sophisticated security system inside the store may help lead police to those burglars who stole from children just hours after their mother was killed.
Neighbors weren’t upset thinking about what the burglary could have done to a family who had just experienced such a terrible loss.
"A loss of words. That is messed up" neighbor Yugene Quillar said about the burglary.
"Why would you take somebody's stuff who just died? Why would you bring that on to a family?” neighbor Yukon Branch questioned.
Others said the killing and the burglary combined have made for an uneasy feeling in the neighborhood.
"You can't walk comfortable anymore because you don't know what is going to happen" neighbor Marisol Avila said.
"I was absolutely aghast, and I think City Heights deserves better," Andrea Craig-Sansony said.
NBC 7 first heard about the burglary through a GoFundMe post for the family of shooting victim Julia Serrano, which said, “A day after her slaying, someone broke into her home and stole television sets and electronics belonging to her two children."
The victim’s kids are 7 and 10 years old, according to the page.
A woman familiar with the burglary investigation who only wanted to be identified as Candice said the family was tipped off to the possible sale of their items at the nearby shop.
"Somebody from around here called the family members and told them [the suspects] were inside the store pawning the items," Candice said.
Police verify they are investigating whether the stolen merchandise ended up at the pawn shop, and the store manager said he and his staff are cooperating with investigators.
"I feel I’m not secure in this area and that you can't trust anybody," Candice said.
As horrific as the details of the crime appear, three weeks before Christmas, someone else may have seen this killing as an opportunity.
"If there are no cops, I guess people went inside and thought they had a shot at free stuff." Quillar said.
The stolen merchandise has not been returned to the family and police have not verified if the pawn shop bought or sold any stolen property.
The store manager would only say he could not comment because it is under investigation.