By Polly Keary, Editor
When I learned of the knife assault of Oscar Garcia-Pacheco on his wife Friday before last, I was transfixed with horror.
A couple weeks before that, I’d been in Oscar’s shop. I’d been walking around the downtown working on a story and he was standing outside his small health products store, persuading passers-by to come in and learn about the Herbalife products he and his wife sold there.
The business itself reminded me of businesses I’ve seen in Central America and Mexico, with not much inside but some posters on the wall and some pamphlets on the table, but Oscar made a good pitch.
“See these people?” he said, holding up a picture of a beefy guy and a plump woman. “Do you know these guys?”
I didn’t recognize them.
“That’s me,” he said. It was hard to believe; Oscar was very slender. The woman was his wife, and she, too, had lost a lot of weight using their products, he said.
I liked the guy. He was funny and friendly and ambitious. So when I realized it was he who had been arrested for stabbing his wife nearly to death and then running down an alley begging police to shoot him while he held the knife to his own neck, I fell into a gloom that lasted most of a week.
I hadn’t met his wife, but the idea that the dapper, engaging fellow I’d met had turned into such a monster was deeply shocking.
I dreaded writing about it. When he was charged with attempted murder and I got the paperwork on his arrest, nothing improved. The crime was absolutely awful and ghastly and foul.
And truthfully, I dreaded the internet comments. There’s never a crime by a Hispanic person that isn’t met with some racist commentary, and I hate it. I moderate the internet comments on our site, and I trash the most offensive statements, but I’ve seen some doozies that still make me a little sick to recall.
Then I met the Arellano family.
Little Johntiago (his Caucasian mom favored Santiago for a name, his Mexican father liked John. They compromised.) is 2, and a cuter kid you’ll never find. The little fellow has seizures, dozens of them a night. He’s already had a brain surgery.
But he’s a quick little guy, who was fascinated with the camera on my iPad and devoted to his stuffed elephant.
His family has been through absolute hell, fearing for Johntiago’s life, living on a fraction of their former income so that they could take time away from work to spend with him, caring for him through a terrifying surgery and going through all the stress and grief common to parents with ill children.
But even so, the community-minded couple wanted to fight back against epilepsy and worked to put together a walk to raise money for support services and research for other families in their predicament.
They were such a nice family, and inspiring, and suddenly I had something to put on the front page that would relieve the horror of the assault story.
Friday, I met Nicota Stevenson, a Monroe kid on his way to Yale, and he, too, was an inspiring guy.
I feel a sort of debt of gratitude to both Nicota and the Arellanos for being so exceptional on such a dire week.
They reminded me that, discouraging though horrible acts of violence might be, violence hardly defines us. In fact, there are far more examples of good people doing good things in this valley than there are bad people doing bad.