A suspect is in custody after a man was fatally stabbed Wednesday outside of an apartment building where he was working as a janitor in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood, officials said.
The incident occurred at around 2:30 p.m. at the Park La Brea apartment complex on Third Street, when a 50-year-old man working there was approached by a man attempting to break into the building, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The victim was identified as Tomas Mejia by the union SEIU – United Service Workers West, who said he worked as a janitor.
The intruder stabbed Mejia multiple times then fled on foot, according to police. Mejia was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
The suspect, described as a white 17-year-old boy, was later taken into custody, police said.
Mejia came to the U.S. from El Salvador and served on the executive board of SEIU – United Service Workers West for 25 years, according to a statement from the union.
“I am devastated because we lost a genuine and authentic voice that has been silenced by an act of violence,” the statement from the SEIU said. “His spirit of fighting for others will live through all of us that he has touched over the years. Long live Tomas Mejia, warrior, friend, leader, husband and father.”
Mejia was a peer-to-peer advocate in the Ya Basta Center, also known as a Compadre, and fought against patriarchy, sexual violence, domestic violence, and the dangers that immigrant workers face on the night shift as janitors, the SEIU stated.
He leaves behind a wife and family, for whom he was the main provider, the union said.
Mejia’s cousin, David Mejia, says he was such a joker and would spread joy throughout the entire family.
“He would walk in and give off a vibrant light, a great feeling to have that presence with him,” David Mejia said in Spanish.
A vigil in honor of Mejia was held on Thursday, and a GoFundMe page was set up, raising more than $39,000 as of Friday afternoon.