ECHO PARK — Juan Sanchez grew up on Morton Avenue in Echo Park, where he attended local schools and excelled at soccer, football and making people laugh, said his friend Jose Villafuerte. “He was a really funny guy – he made everybody laugh,” he said. Now, those memories are all that Villafuerte has left of Sanchez, a 21-year-old who was killed last Thursday after being struck in the head with a hammer by a co-worker at a construction site.
Police arrested 21-year-old Christian Valdez in connection with the killing of Sanchez shortly after the fatal attack in the 4200 block of Burns Avenue in Silver Lake (early news reports had identified the victim as Luis Sanchez based on preliminary police information). The investigation is ongoing but it appears that the assault was prompted by argument between co-workers that ended with a fight and the hammer assault, said Lt. Wes Buhrmester with the Rampart Division.
Sanchez worked on the construction site as well as in a restaurant to support his young daughter, Villafuerte said. “He was very hardworking guy.”
Villafuerte and other friends of Sanchez, who served as prom king during his senior year at the Roybal Learning Center, have organized car washes in addition to an online fundraiser to help defray funeral expenses. Contributions are being acceted at GoFundMe.com.
Sanchez, also known as”Juanito,” had been working in Santa Barbara but returned to Echo Park a few months ago to be closer to his daughter and girlfriend, said Elvira Delgado, who grew up two houses away from Sanchez. Said Delgado:
He was a responsible kid who had dreams of joining the Marines and had so much more ahead of him. He wanted to provide everything for his growing family. He was a family guy and would spend time with his family whenever he could. He did not deserve to go the way he did.”