After eight years, a heartbroken mother finally has some peace of mind after she learned a suspect was arrested in the fatal shooting of her son, her "gentle giant," at a City Heights doughnut shop.
"I'm overwhelmed. I've been crying but they're tears of joy," said Sybil Green. She got a call from the San Diego Police Department Tuesday, informing her that an arrest has been made in the death of her son Damon Green, 38, on March 20, 2007.
At about 2:30 a.m. that morning, Green and a friend were eating at a taco shop when they started talking to another man inside. Police say the conversation became “antagonistic,” and the man left the shop with a companion, according to police.
About 10 minutes later, as Green and his friend were leaving, the man returned and confronted the victim outside the doughnut shop next door.
The suspect pulled out a gun and shot at Green, who ran into the Donuts Plus at 4090 El Cajon Boulevard, officials say. Through the plate glass window, the suspect fired off more rounds, fatally wounding Green. He was taken to a trauma center, where he later died.
"My heart died the night he was murdered," Sybil said.
"You murder one person, but you slaughter a family because our family has not been the same since," she added.
After Green's death, Sybil and her family moved to Las Vegas, mostly to leave that painful chapter behind. However, since that time, she said she refused to call her son's homicide a cold case and refused to believe his killer would get away with murder.
The SDPD says various homicide detectives have tried to find out the shooter's identity for the past eight years, but only recently, they got “additional information” that identified the suspects involved in Green’s homicide.
One was Martin Villapando, 35, of San Diego, according to officials. He was taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection officers as he entered the U.S. at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on Tuesday afternoon.
Shortly after, the suspect was turned over to the SDPD and booked into jail on a charge of murder.
When Sybil picked up the phone to learn the news, the detective told her he has been waiting a long time to make this call.
"I knew one day I'd look these monsters in the eye because they're cowards," said Sybil. "I can't wait to look them in the eye, and I just want to know why they took my gentle giant."
She told NBC 7 that Green left behind two sons and a daughter. While she wasn't privy to the details about what led to the break in the case, she said it was ultimately about perseverance.
If you know anything about this case, call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.