Upward of 400 people attended a special candlelight vigil for slain 19-year-old Lauren Lopez, an up-and-coming mixed martial arts fighter, and her friend Patrick Powell, 22, in front of the Team Quest Athletic Center in San Jacinto Saturday evening, Jan. 6.
The revered MMA instructor was killed in double shooting Jan. 3, at the intersection of Warren Road and Ramona Expressway that morning. Lopez and Powell, a father of three children, were both found fatally shot while still inside a Chevrolet hatchback that ended up in a ditch, according the Riverside County Sheriff’s investigators. The back window was shattered by bullets. It was not immediately known why the two were together when the shooting occurred.
The candlelight vigil was called by Lopez’ and Powell’s families, her Team Quest Athletic Center supervisor Corey Grant and the Team Quest Athletic Center employees and local pastors. Attending were San Jacinto council members Russ Utz and Scott Miller, along with members of the Riverside County and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the San Jacinto Police Department and hundreds of victims’ family and friends.
Lopez’s father, Carlos Lopez, thanked the many who attended the vigil over a loudspeaker while members of her family and the Powell family listened.
The vigil, backed by the Crossroads Baptist Church worship team with music, and prayer brought tears to many who listened to speakers spread the praises of the young lady who aspired to be an MMA fighter, worked three jobs and attended Mt. San Jacinto College. Not only had she helped many students learn kickboxing and self-defense, she spent time working at the Camelot Senior Center with their residents.
Throughout the vigil, pastors, family members and law enforcement officers urged anyone who may have witnessed the shooting or knew of the circumstances that led up to the shooting to come forward to report their information so San Jacinto police sheriff’s detectives can find the perpetrator or perpetrators.
The vigil ended with a prayer for the family, asking for justice to be done. Hundreds of candles were lit for Lopez and Powell in silence and reflection of two.
The San Jacinto Police Department and city officials asked attendees to lay their candles, wreaths or other remembrance items at the entrance of the Team Quest Athletic Center, 2181 W. Esplanade Ave., instead of at the scene of the shooting off the Ramona Expressway.
The detectives are pursuing several leads, but anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department-Central Homicide Unit and San Jacinto Station investigators. Call investigator Gomez at (760) 393-3527 or call the San Jacinto Valley Crime Stoppers Plus anonymously at (951) 306-9847.