A scholarship fund has been created in honor of a beloved Cathedral Catholic High School teacher who was tragically killed in front of his home in North Park earlier this week. The suspect in his murder is his fiancée’s ex-boyfriend.
The Catholic Community Foundation of San Diego said Tuesday that a scholarship fund has been established in memory of CCHS teacher Mario Fierro, 37.
The fund will help provide financial support to current and future students of CCHS in San Diego’s North County. The Catholic Diocese of San Diego said donations in Fierro’s honor can be made online here.
According to the Diocese of San Diego, Fierro was deeply rooted in the Catholic school system in San Diego. He graduated from University High School in 2002, the predecessor to CCHS.
Fierro returned to CCHS in 2016 – but this time, as a social science teacher. Fierro also helped coach the CCHS football team and served as the athletic director at Notre Dame Academy, a feeder school to CCHS, the Diocese of San Diego said.
Fierro was beloved by his students and players.
“He really inspired me and that’s part of the reason I wanted to be a history major in college,” one of Fierro’s students told NBC 7 earlier this week. “He definitely taught me some of the most valuable things I know as a teacher and a mentor, and I will be forever grateful.”
“It’s hard to believe that someone full of energy like that could, like, go away so quickly,” the student added. “And it blew my mind.”
“Mario was a gifted and beloved teacher and coach, who put the needs of his friends, family and students above his own” said Gary Rectenwald, executive director of the CCFSD, said in a press release. “Creating a new scholarship fund to honor Mario’s life and to celebrate his love for Cathedral Catholic High School is the natural thing to do. This fund will benefit current and future generations of students attending the school.”
To learn more about the CCFSD, click here.
The Killing of Mario Fierro
Fierro was shot and killed just before 7:15 a.m. on Monday outside his home along the 4500 block of Kansas Street in North Park, just west of 30th Street.
San Diego Police Department Officer Scott Lockwood said the shooting suspect fled the scene, leaving Fierro wounded on the sidewalk. Emergency responders tried to revive the teacher but he died at the scene.
CCHS sent a note to parents and faculty that morning alerting them of the killing of Fierro. The school canceled classes for the day in the wake of the sudden tragedy.
"Mario was young, vibrant and full of life,” that letter sent by the school on Feb. 1 read. “All of us loved him. He was a fantastic teacher and a great human being.”
On the night of the teacher’s killing, dozens of people showed up at a candlelight vigil to remember Fierro.
"Sad. Just a profound sense of loss for our community," Cathedral principal Kevin Calkins told NBC 7 at the vigil.
Calkins had a special relationship with Fierro. He said the two often leaned on each other for support on tough days.
"He was a very passionate teacher. He loved teaching, loved young people. You went into his classroom, you saw the energy, you felt the energy," he added.
Fellow teachers and coaches share Calkins' sense of loss.
"We are very, very sad about the news we received today. Mr. Fierro was so loved with our students," Sister Marie Pascale said.
Fellow coach Jeff Nolan echoed Calkins' appreciation for Fierro's passion in the classroom and on the field.
"He was like passion defined because he had passion for life, passion for his job, passion for coaching, passion for his faith," Norton said.
A fund was set up to help Fierro's family with funeral costs and other needs.
An Arrest in Fierro's Killing
Immediately following the murder of Fierro, San Diego police launched a search for the suspect. Investigators recovered images from at least two home security cameras nearly a block away.
On Monday night, suspect Jesse M. Alvarez, 30, was arrested in Serra Mesa in connection with the deadly shooting. SDPD released details of Alvarez’s arrest the following day.
Investigators have not released details on the motive, but police said the shooting may have stemmed from an argument between Alvarez and Fierro. Alvarez is the ex-boyfriend of Fierro’s fiancée.
Alvarez was booked into San Diego Central Jail and is facing one count of first-degree murder. He is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 19.
The Restraining Order
On Tuesday, NBC 7 obtained court records linked to Fierro’s fiancée. According to posts on social media, Fierro’s fiancée is also a teacher at CCHS.
The documents showed Fierro’s fiancée had sought protection from Alvarez after the two ended their romantic relationship. A judge ultimately denied the fiancées request for protection, however, finding that Alvarez was not a serious threat.
Fierro’s fiancée filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order against Alvarez on Dec. 31, 2019 and gave the court evidence that she said, according to the documents, proved her life was in danger.
You can read about the restraining order in this case here.