By Joe Piasecki
More than 200 people gathered Monday to raise money for the family of a restaurant worker who was stabbed to death on Nov. 18 near the corner of Pacific Avenue and Washington Boulevard.
Guillermo Carmona-Perez, 24, of Venice is survived by a 13-month-old son, also named Guillermo, said mother Miriam Guirguis.
Carmona-Perez was a line cook at Mercedes Grille, just a few hundred feet from where he was killed. Los Angeles Police Department homicide detectives say he was attacked shortly after leaving his shift and are searching for witnesses.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin on Friday announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of Carmona-Perez’s killer.
Monday’s fundraiser at Mercedes Grille collected about $7,500 from a silent auction and some $800 in bar proceeds to help Guirguis and little Guillermo through this troubled time, manager Mark Niklas said.
Guirguis said she was overwhelmed by the show of compassion in the wake of tragedy.
“It’s wonderful, all the people making this possible,” Guirguis said. “I was not expecting all of this. I want to say thank you, in my child’s name and in my name.”
A fund-raiser on Saturday at nearby Baja Cantina, where Guillermo-Perez had worked a second job, also raised hundreds of dollars for the family, manager Marcel Doumerc said.
Items donated to the silent auction at Mercedes Grille included more than $1,000 in gift certificates from local businesses, sports memorabilia and travel certificates.
Niklas choked up during the event, which included a moment of silence led by restaurant owner Mercedes Ahrablou.
The outpouring of love and support in the community is unbelievable. I don’t have words for it,” Niklas said. “It’s amazing the amount of people who never ate here or even met Guillermo but came just to help out.”
Carmona-Perez “was just a really nice, hardworking guy,” said Marina del Rey Realtor Marcy Soufrine, a regular diner at Mercedes Grille who attended the fund-raiser.
One of the more personal gifts to the family came from 16-year-old Venice resident Jared Prokap, who gave Guirguis his favorite children’s book — the late David Saltzman’s “The Jester Has Lost His Jingle,” intended by its dying author to help children cope with hard times — to read to her son.
Prokap’s father had read the book to him countless times, making it something of a family heirloom.
“I told her this was a very important book for me, something I’ve lived my life by,” he said. “I thought her son needed it more than me.”
Speaking with Bonin at a press conference last week, Guirguis pleaded for justice.
“I don’t know why this happened. I hope they find the killer,” she said.
“Guillermo’s murder is a disturbing and horrific crime and a tragedy for his family, friends and the entire Venice community,” said Bonin. “Our neighborhoods will be safer once the person or people responsible for this crime are off the streets, and this reward will hopefully help the LAPD as we seek justice for Guillermo.”
Steve Royall, a boat captain with Vessel Assist, said Monday’s turnout illustrated the power of community bonds.
“It shows everybody that in a community that’s supposed to be hard, there’s still a lot of love,” he said.
Staff writer Gary Walker contributed to this story.