There’s no denying it: 22-year-old Justin Ayala was about as close to perfect as you could get for a son.
“He was very popular with young and old,” said his mother, Deena Ayala. “There were almost 600 people at his funeral.”
Deena Ayala said her son graduated from Washington High School where he was quarterback of the football team. He was studying sports medicine at Glendale Community College and coaching Pop Warner football. She described him as popular, humble and both respectful and respected.
“On May 18, 2001, Justin was shot as he was driving away from the Filiberto’s restaurant at 35th Avenue and Camelback (Road),” Phoenix Police Sgt. Darren Burch said. “It was completely random and it appears he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Justin was shot in the neck and instantly paralyzed. He died six months later.
Deena wants justice for her son.
“He didn’t hate the person that shot him and he asked me not to either,” she said. “So I’m not looking for revenge, I just want to know who did it and why. As a mother, no one knows that feeling when you lose a child.”
Our next crime happened Aug. 9, 2012. Two guys had just attended a sporting event in downtown Phoenix and were waiting for their ride in a parking lot at Central Avenue and Grant Street.
“Two men approached them and asked to use their cellphone,” Burch said. “The victims thought better of it and refused.”
Burch said one of the suspects got angry and ripped a medallion from the neck of one of the victims then both of the robbers ran off.