A father of three brutally beaten to death in the South Bay was remembered Wednesday at a parking lot fundraiser that featured some of his favorite things: family, friends and cars.
Police say Rafael Cabrera, 40, was with his girlfriend when he got into an altercation with a group at the Chula Vista Marina View Park on June 19. Witnesses told police Cabrera was held by an attacker while another struck him several times in the head with a pipe.
He was rushed to the hospital where he died three days later.
Cabrera was a car junky, so those that knew him best organized a memorial fundraiser and car show in a Spring Valley K-Mart parking lot, the same day CVPD announced the arrests of a 22 and 23-year-old in connection with his killing.
“Just like any other family member, if you lose one, we're hurting,” Eminent Society car club member Adrian Miranda said. “Right now, it’s really unexpected and we’re really hurting.”
His mother was at the fundraiser Wednesday, comforted by the warm embrace of family and friends sharing memories and examples of her son’s shining character.
“He changed me, too, ever since meeting him,” said Jonathan Villagomez. He and Cabrera are Eminent Society's co-founders. “I used to be reckless. You meet someone, you click so much and you guys become best of friends. We helped each other become better people.”
Miranda said Cabrera’s status as an organ donor helped improve or save the lives of four people after his death, and said it inspired him to register as a donor.
As the oldest of six kids and a father of three, Cabrera had a lot of people counting on him. Knowing that, his community stepped up to raise funds to help his family deal with the tragedy while also saying farewell with a fun, spirited gathering.
Funeral arrangements have not been made yet, but Cabrera’s loved ones are hoping the get together will help. A GoFundMe page has also been set up.
CVPD announced Wednesday that officers arrested 22-year-old Austin Kirchner and 23-year-old Kevin Haynes, both of Chula Vista, on Tuesday and charged them each with one count of first-degree murder.
Investigators are asking anyone with information on the incident to call the CVPD tip line at (619) 422-TIPS.