Man killed in Azusa shooting was grandfather of Cerritos College student



SWAT officers arrive on scene at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Fourth Street after 4 people were shot in Azusa, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Karla Enriquez

For millions of people in the United States, Nov. 8 marked the day they would cast their ballot to elect the president of the nation, for psychology major Brenna Varney this day would have more significance.

By Tuesday afternoon, Varney had learned of the death of her grandfather, 70-year-old Francis Varney, who was a casualty of the Azusa shootout.

She said, “His next door neighbor got high off cocaine and he started shooting randomly at people. His wife and daughter left the night before.

“My grandpa went outside to see what was going on and was going to help people outside and then was shot.”

Varney stated that her grandfather was taken by an ambulance where he died before reaching a hospital

A Los Angeles Sheriff Department press release identified the suspect as 45-year-old Carlos Mendez, who was on a cocaine binge.

According to the Azusa Police Department Twitter account ,the incident occurred at 2:02 p.m. on the 200 block East 1st Street,

At the time she received the news Varney was headed to WPMD to record an election night show for Supylocos Corner, the radio show she co-hosts with Isaac Fermin.

He said, “I was doing an election show for WPMD, I was recording the show and she came a bit late. When I first saw her, she just burst into tears

“I didn’t know what was going on until she told me about the possible death of her grandfather.”

He added, “She was confused since she was getting these messages and didn’t know where her dad was. I hugged her and tried to console her. I felt useless.”

Varney got to the crime scene right at the time when photos were being shown to the family in order to identify the body.

“He was just like me. [He was] honest, considerate, stubborn, and caring. He would do anything for anyone and try to help out like he did the day he got shot. He would go out of his way to make things seem okay. He was a worry wort about everyone and especially the neighborhood,” she said.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lieutenant John Corina two other women, ages 59 and 67, were struck by gunfire.

The women were reportedly leaving their nearby polling place.

“Some of the victims were leaving from the voting location when they were struck by gunfire,” Corina stated.

The Lieutenant stated that the SWAT team for the Azusa Police Department entered a home and found the suspect dead along with his rifle.

According to the LA Sheriff press release, “the suspect was struck and killed by police gunfire.”

The release also stated that after searching the suspect’s home it was found he the owned of a handgun, assault rifle, shotgun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition

Varney believes this incident is a testament to the lack of resources for veterans.

“It has to do with our veterans not being taken care of like they should be. The shooter was a veteran who [reportedly] used coke to ease his PTSD. […]Veterans Affairs can only do so much without the right resources, such as proper funding, to help out veterans and the military.

“They are the ones who have been out there fighting for us and we have no appreciation for them other than Veteran’s Day. They aren’t killers. They are heroes like my grandpa and my family members who serve our nation with pride.”

Varney believes her grandfather’s generosity and caring demeanor made him who he was, even if it ultimately proved fatal.

“I would like him to be remembered by how he went out in life. He went out being himself. If he wasn’t trying to save a life or trying to stop [Mendez] from shooting people then that wouldn’t have been my grandpa. He should be remembered as a man who was loyal, thoughtful and brave,” Varney stated.

She continued, “As we got closer and as I got older, I saw allot of him in me. At first, I was afraid of it, but now it can remind me of my grandpa that loved me so much.”