‘Too much violence’: A challenge to do good things in the wake of a tragic loss

‘Too much violence’: A challenge to do good things in the wake of a tragic loss

From the Las Vegas Optic

The snowy evening of Jan. 18 ended in violence when 27-year-old Leroy Phillip Salazar was shot outside his home near Seventh Street and Mountain View Drive. By morning, Salazar was dead and a second man had been transported to a hospital in Albuquerque to be treated for injuries related to the shooting, according to the Las Vegas Police Department.

Police have not provided an update since Jan. 20 when LVPD told the Optic it was investigating a suspect in the shooting. To date, the department has not named the suspect, no one has been charged, and police have not ruled the shooting of Salazar justifiable or as a homicide. The Optic’s attempts to contact Chief of Police Adrian Crespin on Monday were not successful.

Salazar’s brother, James “Jamerz” Salazar, told the Optic the loss of Leroy Salazar has hit his family hard, and he believes it will leave a hole in the community as well.

“A lot of people didn’t know this, but my brother was a giver to this community,” James Salazar said. “He used to give away Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners every year to families.”

Leroy Salazar’s death has left an 8-year-old boy without a father along with a lot of unanswered questions for his family.

“All we know is this dude showed up with a gun to my brother’s house,” James Salazar said. “We need answers — me and my family. We don’t know nothing right now. It’s really upsetting to our family.”

While James Salazar waits for answers and for more details about his brother’s death, he’s launched the #JusticeForLeroyChallenge on social media. The challenge is simple: Do good things for others.

“The whole challenge to everybody was to be a better person. Do good deeds for my brother, and get him justice, man, because they haven’t let us know nothing,” James Salazar said. “My family’s really sad.”

He created the challenge days before what would have been Leroy Salazar’s 28th birthday as a way to honor him. Since then, the challenge has been expanded as a call for justice for not only Leroy Salazar, but for many from the community whose lives were claimed by violence — residents of Las Vegas like Adelina Tafoya and Cassandra Lucero who were killed in 2020, and Cindy Rivera, who’s been missing since the summer of 2012.

On Feb. 3 — Leroy Salazar’s birthday — James Salazar and his family set out to honor Leroy Salazar by feeding families in the community, handing out pizzas and sodas to 16 families and to Samaritan House. The gesture mimics a similar act of kindness Leroy Salazar did in October for his son’s birthday, according to James Salazar.

 

Seeking justice

Along with wanting to see more good in the community, James Salazar said he and the families of Tafoya, Lucero and Rivera also want to see a reduction in violence in Las Vegas, and they want those who commit violence to be held accountable for their crimes.

“The violence in Vegas is out of control, in my eyes,” he said. “We all want to make a difference here, bro. We wanna show people that we want change here in Vegas. We want these people to be charged to the fullest extent of the law. We’re tired of people getting slapped on the wrist.”

Following the shooting, police searched his brother’s home for evidence, James Salazar said, but so far, nothing collected has led to charges being filed against anyone. Police also haven’t told the family much about the investigation, according to James Salazar, and furthermore, someone broke into Leroy Salazar’s home and stole a number of items. Adding to the family’s grief, police have not provided details about the break-in either, he said.

“I went to the police department three times to talk to them about them robbing my brother’s house, and they just keep telling me the detective will call me, the detective will call me, the detective will call me,” James Salazar said. “I do tell them every time I talk to them ‘I do thank you guys; I do appreciate you guys,’ but I tell them I am upset, and we do need communication — me and my family — and it seems like we’re not getting it.”

James Salazar said he knows police have a difficult job, and he said LVPD has done a lot for him and his family, but he feels more can be done.

“We’ve had too much violence in the last few months,” he said. “That’s why I started (the challenge). I hope somebody hears me, because I really want (officials) to do something, man. They really need to step it up, and they need to start charging these people more heavily.”

For now, James Salazar said, having more people in the community doing more good things is a good start to healing.

“I want everybody to do good deeds like my brother,” he said. “I hope this challenge gets more people to do more good. Any type of good.”