With two slices of Pizza in her hand, Esperanza Bermudez negotiates her way across half-a-dozen tables inside a busy dinning room at the Boys and Girls Club. On this Thursday evening she is behaving more like a host to a party than a grieving mother who lost her 19-year-old son exactly one year ago.
Feeding family and friends of the deceased on his death anniversary is true to their Mexican heritage. But in many ways, this day feels like any other for her and her family since her youngest son, Cesar Bermudez, was gunned down near 24th and Harrison streets. His father is still working 7-days-a-week as a restaurant cook, his three older sisters are raising six of his nieces and nephews – two of whom he never met– and his mother still calls the homicide inspector daily.
“I don’t just think about him today, I think about him everyday,” Esperanza said. “I didn’t want this day to come.”
More than 100 people attended a Catholic mass and a dinner to commemorate Bermudez death on Thursday. He was one of three people shot and killed within an eight-day span last October.
Born and raised in the Mission District, Cesar, or “Weeble,” as his friends used to call him, went to John O’Connell high school and worked part time with the Department of Public Works. He liked the Giants, rap music, his friends, and tamales. The latter were served after mass on Thursday. It was a meal that paid tribute to him. It is what he had asked for on his 19th birthday.
Gustavo Bermudez, his father, hasn’t been able to find closure.
“As a father you never want to bury your own son,” he said. “One doesn’t feel happy until they punish whoever did this.”
The motives for his death are unknown to the family. Detectives have told the family that they have a lead, however no arrests have been announced. While the family wants justice, what they miss the most is a parental figure for their sons and daughters.
“The day before he died I asked him to take care of my son, and he just said ‘I got you,’” said Margarita Bermudez, his oldest sister.
Back at the Boys and Girls Club, children wearing shirts with photos of Bermudez, are playing video games and foosball while others share stories of him.
Arturo Moreno, 19, a longtime friend of Bermudez recalls that they were supposed to watch the Giants play in the World Series.
“It feels like it was just yesterday,” he said. “I would walk with him everywhere because I didn’t want him to walk alone.”
Jaqueline Bermudez, 23, is unhappy that the press has labeled him a gang member who had it coming.
“We don’t want anymore violence,” she said. “Whether you’re in a gang or not, no ones deserves to be killed like that.”