Matthew Vincent Bravo
16 Years Old

October 2, 1981 to February 5, 1998

The first time I held my precious son Matthew Vincent Bravo, I stroked his cheek and was rewarded with his “million-dollar smile.” Only moments old and he had stolen my heart! Matthew was the younger of my two children. Synthia was sixteen years older than her brother and adored him at first sight. Even as an infant, he had this “love and light” that shined through him. In his sixteen years of life, he touched many hearts. Matthew loved his family as much as we loved him. This included Lynette, Robert, Joseph, James, Lisa, Andrew and Roman, his half-siblings from his father’s side. As his nephew Cory said of him: “He was the bestest Uncle and no one can ever take his place.”

I want Matthew to be remembered for his kindness and ability to see beyond appearances. He looked at a person’s heart. Perhaps it was because his heart was as big as he was tall. He had a great generosity of spirit, forgave easily and was always available to anyone who needed him. Matthew was the champion of anyone needing to be defended and was quick to intervene when he thought something was unjust.

Making friends was easy for Matthew and if he made friends with you, it was for life. With his easy-going manner, great sense of humor and good looks, people gravitated toward him. Matthew was constantly on the phone with his friends, his girlfriend Wendy, or family. He did this while playing video games and listening to the music he loved. We used to laugh at his ability to do all three simultaneously. He loved to kid-around and was able to laugh at himself. His laughter was contagious as was his joy of living. He had a sweet and humble spirit and never bragged. Most of his friends were unaware he was gifted. He tested college level since the third grade and planned to study engineering at USC.

There were over 400 people at Matthew’s funeral and I believe the outpouring of love would have embarrassed him. He did not like a fuss to be made over him. To say Matthew will be missed could not begin to describe the feeling of losing him. But he lives on in my heart and I thank God for the privilege of being his mother. Matthew’s life was far too short but the love he left behind and the people whose lives he touched will remember him with love and affection.

Until we meet again Matthew, God keep you safe.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE MURDER

On February 4, 1998 at 10PM, my son Matthew and his friend returned to our home from his church’s youth night. His friend needed to wait for a ride home, so he and Matthew decided to wait outside. While they were outside, there was a sudden burst of gunshots and the squeal of tires. I ran outside and found my son lying on the ground, rocking back and forth. Matthew yelled “I’ve been hit!” He stood-up and walked into the house. His friend was not injured. I had Matthew lie-down near the door and called 911. He had multiple shots in his back. He kept asking if he was going to die. I held him in my arms and assured him he was not going to die. We told each other how much we loved one another and then he started to go into shock. When the police and paramedics arrived, they wouldn’t let me stay with him. They insisted on questioning me and the ambulance left without me. He did not recover. He died at Los Angeles County/USC General Hospital at 3:33AM on February 5, 1998 after approximately four to five hours of emergency surgery.

On February 14, 1998, four gang members were arrested. They claimed they did not know Matthew. It was a random act of violence. The murderer/trigger man named Robert Ramirez is known and wanted by the police for this crime but has not been found yet. The co-conspirators Marlett Gutierrez, Claudia Gutierrez, Mark Munoz and Victor Edward Saucedo were all initially charged with four felony counts. These were for murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and voluntary manslaughter. Due to lack of witnesses, a plea bargain was offered and only three of the co-conspirators were charged and found guilty.

On November 2, 1998, Marlett Gutierrez pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in state prison. On September 29, 1998, Mark Munoz and Victor Saucedo both pled nolo contendere to voluntary manslaughter and were sentenced to six years in state prison. Claudia Gutierrez (sister of Marlett) was released on a technicality because she was not read the Miranda Act by the police.

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Matthew Bravo