South Land Park memorial: A community mourns
San Francisco native Alvin Smith on Friday sat in the front row of the West Sacramento Center for Spiritual Awareness as he looked at a poster bearing a picture of his daughter, 45-year-old Angelique “Angel” Vasquez.
Placed a few feet away, similar photographs of her smiling children – 11-year old Alvin and 14-year-old Mia – and her 21-year-old niece Ashley Coleman stood on the stage.
“Everybody is beautiful and that’s mostly what’s keeping me together,” Smith said Friday. “I haven’t really wrapped my mind around what has happened.”
Smith was one of about 150 people who attended the memorial service for the four victims found dead last month in their 35th Avenue home by Sacramento police.
Smith was joined by several employees of the California Employment Development Department, who worked with Vasquez in the 11 years she was employed at the department. Coworkers spoke of Vasquez’s energetic attitude and love for her children during the ceremony. A group of Mia’s friends wore black shirts with her name printed on them in her honor.
“We came as family, as friends, as a community and as a village to celebrate their walk on this earth,” said Tynya Beverly, a minister at the center and former EDD employee who worked with Vasquez until her retirement 1 1/2 years ago.
The eldest of the victims, Vasquez was born in San Francisco in 1971. She began working at the California Employment Development Department in the disability insurance branch in 2006 before accepting a promotion as a personnel technician five years later.
Alicia McIntyre, who said she worked in the same EDD office with Vasquez, told attendees of Vasquez’s joking nature.
“Anybody that knows Angelique knows that there’s many layers to Angelique,” she said. “She’s loud, she’s crazy but she loves everybody.”
McIntyre said Vasquez talked about her children often at work. Both were known as athletes who were well-liked among their friends. Mia Vasquez was an eighth-grader at Sam Brannan Middle School, where she was a goalkeeper for the school’s soccer team. She was also a talented violinist, a ceremony program said.
Alvin, who was in fifth grade, went to John Cabrillo Elementary School and enjoyed playing basketball. Classmates told teachers his favorite basketball player was Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
Sam Brannan Middle School principal Enrique Flores said he first met Mia when she began attending the school in the middle of her seventh-grade year. He said though Mia was never sent to his office to speak to him, he did remember watching she and her brother greet each other every day after school. Flores said Alvin would wait on the campus until Mia got out of class.
“They were always so friendly,” Flores said. “He was always so genuinely happy to see her.”
Coleman, like her aunt, was also born in San Francisco. She was about to begin vocational training as a veterinarian assistant this month.
The ceremony was held just more than two weeks after the four were found dead in their South Land Park home. Officers were sent there after receiving a call from someone in the Bay Area who said a relative had come to his home early March 23 and confessed to something horrific. The caller said he had not seen the relative in a long time and only knew he lived Sacramento but did not have an address.
Police announced they had detained a man in connection to the quadruple homicide in San Francisco later that morning. Salvador Vasquez-Oliva, 56, was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail early the next day on four counts of murder.
A Sacramento County marriage license shows Vasquez-Oliva and Vasquez wed in June 2002 in San Francisco. The couple are listed as the parents of Mia and Alvin Vasquez in Sacramento County birth certificates.
Vasquez-Oliva was hired as an office technician for the California Employment Development Department in 2012, department officials said.
Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Sacramento held a respectful removal of memorial items left in front of the 35th Avenue home Thursday night ahead of Friday’s ceremony.
Alphonso Flowers, a pastor at the House of Prayer Tabernacle of Worship and Praise in south Sacramento who worked with Vasquez the past five years, closed the ceremony by encouraging family, friends and coworkers of the family to support one another.
“Our EDD office is really tight knit,” he said after the memorial. “She was well loved.”
A funeral service for Vasquez, her children and niece is scheduled April 22 in Daly City.