Police confirmed the identity of a Madera homicide victim whom a friend described as a loving father, Marine Corps veteran and “solid.”
Alex Aragon said Wednesday he knew Thomas Aparicio, a 27-year-old who was gunned down Jan. 12, since meeting him in the third grade at Emerson Elementary School in Los Angeles.
“He was just an amazing dude,” Aragon said. “He always put other people first. He was just solid.”
Aparicio was with his wife in a parked car near Country Club Drive and Clark Street close to Madera’s northern city limit before he was killed by gunfire, according to police.
Aragon said Aparicio had moved to Madera about three months ago with his wife, 2-year-old son and daughter who is almost 1 before he joined a Fresno-area plumber’s union as an apprentice.
“He moved out there to give his family a better life,” Aragon said. “He was really good at (plumbing). A fast learner. He never complained about doing a job no matter what it was.”
Aparicio was a Marine veteran who served two combat tours in Iraq and Jordan, he said. An Army veteran himself, Aragon said they stayed in touch even throughout their deployment.
Madera police Sgt. Matt McCombs said the city’s first homicide of the year was “completely random” as Aparicio and his wife were talking to each other when two men — 21-year-old Gonzalo Barrios and 20-year-old Jose Perez — walked by and interjected the conversation.
Words were exchanged before the argument became physical. Barrios pulled a gun and Aparicio attempted to wrestle it away, McCombs said.
Aparicio was shot twice in the back and died despite the efforts of first responders, police said. Both Barrios and Perez have been arrested.
Aragon said he will miss his childhood friend.
“He touched the heart of many people,” he said. “It’s not going to be the same without him.”
He said he set up a GoFundMe page to help bury Aparicio and support his young children.
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