PICO RIVERA (CBSLA.com) — Family, friends and co-workers gathered Saturday to pay their respects to a 54-year-old grandfather who was accidentally killed by a sheriff’s deputy who was looking for a wanted armed parolee.
Frank Mendoza was killed last week when the parolee — identified as Cedric Ramirez — entered his home and took his wife hostage.
CBS2’s Greg Mills was at the somber service — held at St. Hilary Church of Perpetual Adoration — where many remembered Mendoza as a devoted family man.
The victim had eight children and 10 grandchildren.
Mills said Lorraine Mendoza, the victim’s widow, kissed his casket as it was put into the hearse for the ride to the cemetery.
“Our focus and our goal is to make sure our mother is taken care of,” said Jeremy Mendoza, one of Frank’s sons.
“I’m angry,” Jeremy said, “how could you not be? But who do you take it out on? The circumstances were horrible.”
The family took some small comfort in the fact that the church was packed to overflow.
“Way more than we expected,” Jeremy smiled, “Way more than we expected. We never knew our dad’s reach went that far.”
The family was also touched by the large number of co-workers who came from Unified Groceries who came to pay their respects — including the company’s COO. Mendoza was planning on retiring from there later this year.
“It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” said Jeremy, “He didn’t deserve to pass this way. But God has a plan and this was his plan.”
Following the funeral mass there was a reception at the Pico Rivera Golf Club, Mills reported.
At the reception, more friends and family shared their memories of the kindly grandfather.
Jeremy remembered that his father called him every day and if he was too busy to pick up the call, he said his dad would always leave the same message.
“Jeremy, it’s your dad, give me a shout,” said Jeremy, “That was my dad. That is what I’m going to miss most about him.”
The son told Mills this week was especially hard for him — it was the first time he could remember not getting one of those phone calls.
The family is trying hard to also follow some advice Mendoza gave them before he died — miss him but don’t grieve him.