FAIRFIELD — It was one year ago Friday that 20-year-old Fairfield resident Jesus “Jessie” Amaya was shot and killed. His mother Vernalisa Gutierrez still seeks justice for her son.
Justice for Jessie — that was the phrase that echoed around at a one-year memorial Saturday for Jessie at Laurel Creek Park. Dozens of people who personally knew him showed up to remember him a year after his death and to call for justice, to find the man responsible for his death and put him in prison.
The message of justice isn’t one calling for retaliation or revenge, Gutierrez said. It’s about finding peace, peace for her son and peace for all the other young people killed.
“This shouldn’t happen to anybody,” Gutierrez said.
The memorial for Jessie came just one day after a 13-year-old Suisun City girl was found dead in Allan Witt Park. Jessie’s death and the girl’s death fell exactly a year apart.
Gutierrez was joined by many friends and family at the memorial, including Teresa and Raymond Courtemanche, whose son Matt Garcia, then a Fairfield city councilman, was shot and killed in 2008.
Teresa Courtemanche remembered when she lost her son, Gutierrez would come and comfort her.
“She’d say, ‘I don’t know how you do it,’ ” Teresa Courtemanche said. “Then Jessie died.”
Fairfield Vice Mayor Rick Vaccaro was Jessie’s former principal and knew him well. He said when he first heard the news of Jessie’s death, he had “a total flashback to the call about Matt (Garcia).”
Though the death of her son is still raw, Gutierrez said she knows she can’t bring him back.
“I know I need to be happy and be at peace,” she said.
Gutierrez said she hopes to spread that message of peace throughout the community by holding a peace march in Fairfield. Her objective is not only to get justice for her son, but to unite the community in a quest for peace.
Vaccaro and the Courtemanches, as well as Victory Outreach and Operation THUGS, are all on board with Gutierrez’s plan.
“We need each other equally. We need to be an example to our kids,” Raymond Courtemanche said. “Justice is universal.”
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.