This story was originally printed in Tuesday’s Daily Post.
BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
A local victim’s advocacy group announced yesterday it is offering $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the gunman who killed two young men at a party in East Palo Alto six months ago.
Eduardo “Lalo” Sandoval, 22, and Mario Mendez, 23, were shot and killed on Oct. 14 during a Halloween-themed birthday party at the A1 Auto Services & Towing lot at 2526 Pulgas Ave. Two other men were also injured.
Margaret Petros, executive director of Mothers Against Murder, said the group teamed up with the East Palo Alto police department in hopes that the reward will get someone to help police identify the gunman.
“Our hope is to go out en masse with the $5,000 reward and bring some awareness or get someone’s attention to make the phone call. It’s been over six months from when four men were shot; it’s huge,” Petros said.
Petros has been working with Veronica Sandoval, Lalo’s mother, and Leslie Mendez, Mario’s sister, in the months since the two young men died.
Petros has sat in on meetings with police and has been in regular contact with the two women.
Petros added that the shooting victims, Mendez and Sandoval, were both upstanding young men. Neither had run-ins with the law. Both had jobs. Veronica Sandoval previously told the Post that she moved her family from East Palo Alto to Stockton about four years ago to make sure her kids would stay on the right path.
Anonymous tips welcomed
“We need people to come forward and talk to police. There are people out there who are staying on the sidelines,” Petros said. “We will not release their names, but we will release the money to them.”
Mothers Against Murder will be the ones to dispense the reward, but the tip must come in to police, Petros clarified, saying that East Palo Alto Police wanted to maintain control of getting the tips.
Police have previously made public requests of residents and partygoers to call them with any information on the killer, and in December even shared a video of Leslie Mendez imploring people to call the tip line.
Police Cmdr. Jeff Liu said at the beginning of the investigation that there was no indication that the shooting was gang-related, and that it appeared to have simply been a fight.
Petros, who has worked on other cases in East Palo Alto, said she’s puzzled by the lack of cooperation with police by partygoers or neighbors — which makes her wonder who the killer is, if people are truly scared of him.
The reward is on the table for the next three months.
“We don’t want this case to go cold. Time goes by and witnesses may go away, and we don’t want that to happen. The police needs to hear from anyone who knows something. They can’t do it alone,” Petros said. “The only thing we want to do right now is bring justice and find this killer.”
Anyone with information is asked to call or text the anonymous tip line at (650) 409-6792. They can also email [email protected].
Tipsters can also call police Detective Lydia Cardoza at (650) 853-7249.