May 24, 2013

Slain 10-year-old girl spoke of devoting her life to ending violence hours before she was shot

Just hours before she was shot to death, 10-year-old Elvira Campos said she wanted to devote her life to teaching people the Bible "and its promise that one day all the violence would end," said her best friend and teacher, Olga Cruz.

Just hours before she was shot to death, 10-year-old Elvira Campos said she wanted to devote her life to teaching people the Bible "and its promise that one day all the violence would end," said her best friend and teacher, Olga Cruz.

"That afternoon I picked her up for Bible study, and we talked about the future," a tearful Cruz recalled Thursday afternoon. "She said she wanted to learn more so she could go out and teach people that one day we're no longer going to have crimes and evil people."

Cruz, a Jehovah's Witness, said that when Elvira was 6, "I started reading Bible stories to her and she learned how to read to them in Spanish.

"This is so unfair. Out of all people, she was such a cute little thing, such a happy little girl, so loving, so caring."

In an interview with The Bee at Sacramento's Mexican Consulate, the little girl's mother and father shared their last moments with their daughter.

They said that when the rain of bullets tore through their front window at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, piercing Elvira's head and heart from behind, she was sketching dolls and faces on her laptop and watching "Sábado Gigante," the quirky Latino variety show that has entertained fans for half a century.

"She loved to draw; she even drew me," said her dad, Ernesto Campos. "And she loved it when groups of children came on the show to sing and dance."

The bubbly fifth-grader enjoyed watching host Don Francisco reunite long-lost relatives, "and she loved Mexican music, especially Jenni Rivera," famous for ballads about love and social issues, said Elvira's mom, Imelda Tinoco.

The couple from Uruapan, a city in Michoacán, Mexico, met 30 years ago at a dance featuring banda music. They came to California looking for a better life 23 years ago, first settling in Suisun City and then moving to Sacramento in 2000, said Campos, who has worked in construction and landscaping since he arrived.

The Mexican Consulate has provided the family with $800 for food and living expenses while they look for a new place to live out of the area. Tinoco said she would never return to their house on Channing Way in North Highlands where their daughter was slain.

Mexican Consul General Carlos González Gutiérrez called on friends, neighbors "and indeed the whole Latino community to join forces in support of this family struck by a terrible tragedy. It is a shared responsibility to help the police solve this awful crime."

Her parents said when they moved into North Highlands about a year ago, Elvira was their ambassador. "She said hello to everybody as if she knew them," her dad said.

"She loved to eat everything I made," her mom recalled. "She'd say, 'Mom, when are you going to make this again?' She loved onions with cheese, salsa, cream and chicken, meat with chili and beans, lentils with bacon."

When her aunt died, Elvira said, "Mom, never leave me, I want you to live millions and millions of years," Tinoco said. "She gave us hugs and kisses and always told us she loved us."

The family was deep into its Saturday night TV ritual "when all of a sudden we heard gunshots," Tinoco said. "The neighbors said the car in front of our house was black, and two of the four people inside got out. The one who shot me wasn't very tall and had a hoodie."

Campos said the lights were on in the living room, so the shooters clearly could see who was inside. The Sheriff's Department called the Campos family innocent victims and was still looking for a motive.

Tinoco draped herself in a purple towel Thursday, covering the bullet hole in her right forearm. Her husband's right arm was in a black sling, the bullet still lodged in his elbow. Their 13-year-old son was spared because he was in his room playing video games, Campos said.

The family immediately called 911, and after 10 minutes, an ambulance rushed Elvira to Mercy San Juan Medical Center, where she died.

Elvira's 20-year-old brother Daniel Campos, who had been in Old Sacramento with friends, "blamed the police for not getting there fast enough," Tinoco said. "I told him to calm down."

Daniel, who had been in and out of hospitals for surgery on his cleft palate and a foot, spends a lot of time at home while waiting to start classes at American River College, Tinoco said.

"He's never had any trouble with the police, but he told me he had trouble with one of the neighbors. He said he has no idea who did this."

Campos said someone threw rocks through their front window and the driver's side of his pickup several months ago, but had no idea why.

"What did we do wrong?" Tinoco asked. "We were never mean to anybody. If people know anything, please call police."

Anyone having information regarding this incident is asked to contact the sheriff's homicide bureau at (916) 874-5115.

Tip information can also be left anonymously at www. sacsheriff.com, by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) and entering the keyword SSD, or by calling (916) 874-8477.


Sacramento's Mexican Consulate is helping the Campos family raise funds to bury their 10-year-old daughter Elvira, who was fatally shot while watching TV Saturday night.

Contributions can be made to Chase Bank Account #208279072 in the name of Ernesto Campos, or sent to Ernesto Campos, in care of Consulate General of Mexico, Department of Protection, 2093 Arena Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834.

The family will hold a private service for Elvira on Saturday.

Call The Bee's Stephen Magagnini, (916) 321-1072. Follow him on Twitter @stevemagagnini. Editor's note: This story was changed May 24 to correct the name of the hospital where Elvira Campos was taken for treatment and died.

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