Sandra Lopez wiped away tears Wednesday as she spoke at her 19-year-old son's funeral about the day he decided to join the Marines.
The two had talked two days earlier about his options, including military service, school and other possible paths to pursue after high school.
"He said, 'I'm going to join the Marine Corps," Lopez said. "I came along with him to the Marine Corps office. I picked up my pen and I said, 'Carlos, I will sign if you ask me to.' He said, 'Yes, ma'am.'
"I thank God for giving me such a wonderful son. Now my job is to keep his memory alive."
Lance Cpl. Carlos Segovia Lopez, described by family and friends as a loving person dedicated to serving his community and country, was found Sept. 16 slumped over in his car in South Los Angeles. He died four days later at a hospital.
No arrests have been reported in the case.
The funeral mass at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles included eulogies by Lopez's mother, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, friend Claudia Perez, Lt. Col. Cory Quinn and friend Lance Cpl. Joseph Solorio.
"To join the Marines at a time of war, to join as an infantryman, is an extraordinary emotional and intellectual decision," said Lt. Colonel Quinn. "You can see how important it was to him. You learn what it is to defend, what it is to stick up for others. And, that's why he joined."
He told mourners about a water training exercise in which Segovia Lopez displayed his grit.
"He was suffering as much as any of them, but he would focus on them," Quinn said. "To be honest, this is bizarre to me. As he would be ingesting water, spitting the water out, the way he got through it would be by focusing on the other Marines. What an extraordinary young man."
Marines in uniform filled several rows of the Cathedral to hear about the young man who showed a desire to serve his community during his teen years. Claudia Perez, founderof LA on Cloud 9, was described as a second mother to Carlos, who volunteered with the community group.
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"Thank you for sharing your son with us," Perez said at the funeral mass, speaking to Carlos' mother. "He was just so dedicated, very passionate in helping others. Carlos was already ready to anything. I can still here him tell me, 'Just say the word, Claudia. We got this.'
"This kid inspired me."
He worked closely with the homeless community through Cloud 9. His compassion even extended to animals living in the homeless encampments.
"When we visited every homeless encampment, he had to, and I say had to, feed the animals, as well," Perez said. "I know they will miss him tremendously. It's hard now when we visit the homeless encampments and we known Carlos is missing."
The organization plans to name a teen program after Segovia Lopez.
Garcetti praised the Marine for his work, saying many people avert their eyes from the homeless, but not Segovia Lopez.
"For Carlos, that was not some class of other people. That was his brother," Garcetti said. "At a moment when we want to denigrate each other because of where we come from, what uniforms we serve, or we think we know people before we know them, let us all stop and learn and find who we are -- the connections that unite us, not the ones that divide us.
"Let us make the passing of Carlos something that bring us together in service and love and unity. At the end of our days we're left with two things: who did we know and what did we do. By that measure, Carlos, you left and led the most blessed of lives."
The Los Angeles Police Department announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in Lopez's killing. The most promising clue so far is a phone call that gave detectives a glimpse into the young Marine's last moments. Segovia Lopez was having a cellphone conversation when it appeared he became aware of something suspicious going on nearby, and then the line went silent, according to Capt. Peter Whittingham, commander of the LAPD Criminal Gang Homicide section.
"It is very possible that he might have seen some suspicious activity or maybe even a crime in progress," Whittingham said.
He had just left the home of his girlfriend's family when he was fatally wounded with a single shot to the head, police said. A vehicle pulled up beside the Marine's car, and at least one person opened fire, striking him once in the head, police said.
He was not in uniform.
Lopez was born in El Salvador and came to the U.S. with his mother. He was known for his volunteer work in high school, a commitment to community service that eventually led to his enlistment in the military. He began volunteering as a teen for a number of non-profit causes, including LA on Cloud 9, which aids the homeless. After graduating from Foshay Learning Center last year, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, but during leave time continued to volunteer, said Perez, the organization's founder.
"He was more than a brother. He was my hero," said his sister, Cynthia, 13. "Now I want to finish his dreams."
A statement from the School of Infantry-West and USMC Training Command echoed those sentiments: "In a very short time, Lance Cpl. Segovia Lopez deeply impacted those who came to know him and his unselfish and honorable legacy will live on in our Corps. Once a Marine, always a Marine."
Anyone with information on the case was asked to contact detectives directly at 323-786-5110.