Between sobs, family members on Tuesday hailed as a hero a 30-year-old father who died shielding his children from bullets fired into their Inglewood home during a weekend rampage.
Filimon Lamas, 30, and his 4-year-old son, Giovanni, “Gio” for short, were killed early Saturday. The shooting also wounded Lamas’ wife, Gloria Jimenez, 28, and a young daughter and son of the couple.
“We thank God for allowing such beautiful souls to be part of our lives,” said Gloria Jimenez’s brother, Jaime, as he fought back tears during a press conference outside the restaurant where Lamas worked.
“Filimon,” Jaime Jimenez continued, addressing his brother in law, “Jaimito wants to tell you that you left your mark.
“You’re a hero in all of our hearts.”
Family members spoke at a press conference to put a face on the tragedy.
They also thanked the public for offers of support and financial assistance to help the surviving family members in their recovery.
Police said the shooting occurred when suspect Desmond John Moses, their 55-year-old neighbor, opened fire in their home then set his own house ablaze when he became upset over an eviction, police said.
Gloria Jimenez and their 7-year-old daughter remained hospitalized on Monday. Gloria Jimenez, who was shot in both legs, was in good condition at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Their 7-year-old daughter, who suffered a gunshot wound to the chest, was in fair condition at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, according to police and hospital officials.
Their 6- year-old son was shot in the pelvis and is out of the hospital, while their 8-year-old son escaped injury.
Authorities said Moses, a licensed security guard, opened fire in the home in the 4900 block of West 99th Street.
A body believed to be that of Moses was found Saturday night in the smoldering ruins of his home. Police said he wore a painter's mask when he attacked and had body armor on when he was found. He also had a .38-caliber revolver in his hand and what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head, said Inglewood police Lt. James Madia.
The Los Angeles County coroner's office was working to confirm his identity.
Moses blamed the family for the eviction notice he had received from their landlord, according to police.
Lamas, who co-owned Chips Restaurant in Hawthorne, was found shielding three of his children, police said.
Gloria Jimenez ran from the scene, jumping a fence, with Giovanni in her arms, police said.
Giovanni died from a gunshot wound to the head.
Neighbors said Moses lived in one of two apartments at the rear of the property for at least two decades but had not paid rent in years.
Relatives of Lamas and Jimenez lived in the other apartment.
"Fili," as family and friends called Lamas, made a big impact on the city of Hawthorne, said Police Chief Robert Fager.
“He represented an ideal that everybody professes to want," the chief said. "He was a hard-working, loving, dedicated family man, a brilliant father and an aspiring businessman, who took time to give back.”
Carolina Jimenez, Gloria Jimenez’s sister, said she respected her brother-in-law’s selflessness and humility. She fondly recalled him receiving a certificate from the city of Hawthorne for donating breakfast.
“Fili was never about flaunting or boosting his image,” she said. “He worked at Chips wearing the same uniform as every other employee. People viewed him as just another waiter when he was really one of the owners. He greeted people with a smile every single time, regardless of who they were...
“He is more alive now than ever. So is our angel, Gio. They are here to stay forever.”
Donations can be sent to the Lamas Family Donation Fund, account No. 5223, ICE Federal Credit Union, 1 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, 90301.
The Hawthorne Police Department also announced the establishment of the Jimenez/Lamas Donation Fund.
Donations to that fund can be made any local Wells Fargo Bank branch or by calling the Hawthorne Wells Fargo branch at (310) 973-6279 and referencing the Jimenez/Lamas Donation Fund, account number 4122412588.