Dean J. Gamboa
40 Years Old

February 14, 1962 to September 1, 2002

At home on February 14, 1962 were a 6 year old little girl (Cheryl) and a 4 year old little boy (Guy) waiting for the news of the arrival of their new baby brother, Dean J. Gamboa. He was born on a very special day and was a very special baby; one my Mom wanted so lovingly. He was born with piercing black eyes and beautiful raven black hair. It wasn’t long before our family knew we were in for the ride of our lives with Dean. He was as rambunctious as they come. For lack of better words, a genius, with Houdini qualities. He and our guard dog, Herman, were pals and loved to roam the neighborhood together; Dean with pillow in hand. No matter how many locks were put on the doors, he could figure out how to “escape” in the early morning hours before anyone else woke up. Mind you, this was a daily event and started happening while he was still in diapers. However, times were different then. People were kinder, more “human”. Mom would find Dean asleep on neighbors’ porch swings or just roaming Elysian Park with Herman who would not let anyone near Dean (we lived right near Dodger Stadium). Growing up and being in such close proximity to Dodger Stadium, Dean became very involved with the sport and spent most of his time there. It became his life. His love for the game surpassed all other interests. He could tell you every statistic of every player on the Dodger’s team. As Dean grew older, his dream of becoming a baseball player was not to be, but his love of sports was immeasurable. He loved every Los Angeles team and followed them religiously.

Our family eventually moved to South Orange County, but after 25 years in Los Angeles, Dean liked to go back there and visit friends and go to Dodger games all the time. However, 40 years later, Los Angeles was not the same town it had been. It is now gang infested and crime ridden. Not a safe environment by any stretch of the imagination. Ultimately, the place he loved the most would be near where my sweet brother’s life would be taken 40 years after his birth.


Dean went to Los Angeles in August of 2002 to visit his friends and go to a few Dodger games. In the early warm summer morning of August 31st, 2002, my brother was walking down a street near Dodger Stadium when he was approached by three Hispanic gang members. My brother was not in a gang and did not have one tattoo on his body. He had no money, no drugs. These three approached him and said “where are you from white boy” and was then hit in the face with a beer bottle and shot in the right eye with a 25 caliber Beretta. The bullet ended up in the upper left side of his brain. An eye witness called 911 and my brother was rushed to USC Medical Center where he was put on life support for one day and then pronounced brain dead on September 1, 2002.

Manual Salas was convicted on September 15, 2005 and sentenced to 35 years to life for second degree murder. The gun was found in his car 25 days after my brother was shot while he was doing a drive-by-shooting. Gabriel Diaz, the perpetrator that we believed hit my brother with the bottle pled to involuntary manslaughter and received three years. He was convicted January 16, 2007 and is eligible for parole in approximately one year. The third person was let go because the eye witness backed down. He had stated he was told he would be killed if he testified.

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Dean Gamboa