Crime Stoppers Houston: Hundreds of Homicide Victims Honored on National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims

HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — Families affected by gun violence and government officials gathered to honor murdered victims in the Houston area on National Homicide Victims Remembrance Day, packing an entire boardroom in the Crime Stoppers Building.

Stephanie Aguilar and Mark Aguilar Sr. placed a picture frame of their 23-year-old son next to the other victims.

“He was such a loving son,” Stephanie said in tears as she remembered her son. “He had a 2-year-old daughter whom he leaves behind.”

According to Houston police, Aguilar was shot in his car after ordering tacos from a food truck on Irvington Boulevard in May.

“A young man, who turns into a man, takes care of his family, goes to work, does what he has to do, and you get murdered for going out and looking for food,” said the father of the victim.

Their son is among hundreds of victims murdered in 2022 in Houston. So far, 322 people have been murdered this year, according to the Houston Police Department. The number of homicides is down 4% from this time in 2021, but it exceeds the number of homicides for all of 2019, which was 281.

According to Andy Kahan, director of Crime Stoppers, the names of each victim are usually read aloud. However, he said there was too much to read this year. Instead, pictures and names were listed on billboards and played on a monitor.

Public officials and elected leaders such as Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Houston Police Department Executive Chief Matt Slinkard, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg and Sen. John Whitmire spoke about the staggering number violent deaths.

Veronica Castellano went to support other families and honor her son, after losing him in 2020.

“It’s going to be two years next month,” Castellano said.

Alejandro Ocanas, known to his family as Big A, was shot on the South Loop, according to Houston police.

“It’s really hard every day. You have to deal with life no matter how much pain you go through, and it’s hard for us to go on living without him,” Castellano said.

According to court records, the accused killer of her son was on bail for capital murder.

“We want to make sure people know what’s going on in the justice system,” Castellano said.

Other families, like Aguilar’s, still have open cases, with no suspects, pending justice.

“I don’t think we’ll ever have closure,” Stephanie said. “He’s gone and will never come back. We’ll never have closure, we’ll always have pain.”

SEE RELATED STORY: Harris Co.’s Audit of Crime Stoppers Incomplete When Organization Didn’t Respond to Demand

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Mark M. Gagnon