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Vigil Held For Iraqi War Veteran Killed At A Local Starbucks

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FILLMORE (CBS) — A candlelight vigil was held in Fillmore for an Iraqi war veteran who was killed while sitting in a Starbucks.

Sergio Mendez, 30, was killed in December 2011 when an off-duty deputy crashed his sport utility vehicle into the coffee shop in Fillmore.

Mendez’s family — some coming as far as Tampa, Florida — gathered Friday night to remember the 8-year Iraqi veteran.

“He always put out for his family. No matter what, no matter who he was fighting, no matter what area. He was just always for his family,” Robert Zapata, the victim’s cousin, told CBS2’s Juan Fernandez.

And now his family is stepping up for him.

“We are looking for answers. We want justice,” said Belen Burgos, the victim’s aunt.

Fernandez reported that the Burgos family does not want the investigation fast tracked but want answers to help clear up some doubts.

According to investigators, 30-year-old Michael Cedarland of Pasadena was behind the wheel of the vehicle that lost control on Highway 126 in Fillmore.

Preliminary reports show the off-duty deputy either fell asleep or lost consciousness before the crash.

Cedarland is a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy but was off-duty at the time.

Mendez’s family wants to know, among other things, why Ventura County Sheriff’s are investigating and not the California Highway Patrol.

Mendez’s aunt believes this could be seen as a conflict of interest.

Translated from Spanish, the victim’s mother Cecilia Burgos told Fernandez that, “it’s an indescribable pain. There are no words to explain how you feel losing a son this way. There is so much still left unanswered.”

Burgos says not knowing what happened the night her son died haunts her every day.

Both the Los Angeles County and Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirm that they are investigating but would not comment any further.

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