The family of Andrew Sanchez is grieving the loss of their beloved son, brother and father, who was also a one-on-one health aide to special needs children at Werner Elementary School in Rialto.
Sanchez was shot and killed after an apparent road rage incident earlier this year.
“He had a sense of humor, enjoyed his cooking, enjoyed his family,” Sanchez’s mother, Mary Louise Sanchez, said of her son. “He was happy at his job, enjoyed working with those special needs kids.”
Andy, as she called him, had also become her caretaker in recent years.
The fatal shooting occurred on Feb. 28 near the intersection of 5th Street and Tippecanoe Avenue in Highland.
Officers with the Highland Police Department responded to the scene on reports of an assault with a deadly and found Sanchez in his vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound. Deputies immediately began life-saving measures. The 54-year-old was taken to the hospital by fire department personnel where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
“When he didn’t come, that’s when I thought it was unusual because he always let me know. He’ll call and say, ‘Mom, you need something from the market? I want to stop,’ and little things like that,” his mother told KTLA.
Investigators with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department say the incident started as an act of road rage between Sanchez and 31-year-old Juana Leonides of Colton.
Mary Louise said she learned of her son’s death from her other son.
“The bad news was something we did not expect,” she said. “When he hugged me, he says, ‘Mom, he’s gone.’ At that time, it just hit me, and I’m like, ‘What does he mean?’”
Last week, investigators announced that they arrested Leonides and her 23-year-old boyfriend, Oscar Lopez. Lopez was charged with murder; both were charged with shooting from a car.
The Sanchez family is now remembering the 54-year-old as a dedicated father and grandfather to his son and grandchildren.
“My dad has so much more life to live and it is very unfortunate that my father was taken from us on my youngest son’s third birthday,” Sanchez’s son, Anthony Sanchez, said in a statement. “Our family is staying strong and praying for justice to be served.”
The two suspects pleaded not guilty and are expected to be back in court next Monday.