On his free days, he wore jerseys and spent hours talking about soccer and football with his friends on Harrison Street near 24th Street . Last month, on that same street, 33-year-old Carlos Chan Cocom was gunned down outside of his apartment. His brother, 32-year-old Elmer, survived being shot seven times.
Police are still investigating the incident.
His friends remember Chan Cocom — one of the five homicide victims in the Mission so far this year — as a sweet guy with dreams who sent money home to his family in Mexico and who dreamed of opening his own place.
Chan Cocom migrated to the United States more than 10 years ago from the municipality of Akil, in the state of Yucatán, Mexico. As many new immigrants, he worked in the dining industry and had risen to become a fulltime server at Californios, a high-end restaurant with two Michelin stars.
“He was the light of the room,” said Charlotte Randolph, the manager and one of the owners of Californios. She remembered his dimples, and said that when the staff went out together to arcade bars in SOMA, he was always smiling.
“Carlos was like a friend,” said Randolph who added that their relationship grown over the two and a half years at the restaurant, where they went from co-workers to friends.
She wanted him to attend her upcoming wedding in Mexico, but he did not have a green card — although he was working on getting one. “I have no doubts he could have been successful,” said Randolph about Chan Cocom’s dream to open up his own restaurant in Mexico. She added that she was touched when she visited his home on Harrison Street and noticed the restaurant’s logo on some of the furniture. “He was loyal,” she said.
Outside of work, Chan Cocom rooted for Club América, his favorite Mexican soccer team, and more recently for the Mexican National Football Team during the 2018 World Cup.
His friends called him “El Yuca,” harking to his origins in the Yucatán, according to Mario Juárez, one of those friends.
The two met on the Harrison and 24th about a year ago, and would spend hours discussing soccer over lunch or a couple of beers at El Farolito or El Trebol. “It was like a routine,” said Juárez about hanging out with Chan Cocom and his three brothers.
Juárez and Randolph described Chan Cocom as a family man who worked hard to send money back home to Mexico, where his family owned a fruit store.
Juárez added that he never saw his friend involved in criminal activity. “I never saw him taking the wrong path,” Juárez said, referring to the nature of his death — gunned down in front of his home in the wee hours. Witnesses described the shooters as appearing to have a getaway car.
The victim’s brother, Elmer, survived seven gunshots. He was treated at San Francisco General Hospital. According to Randolph, the city of San Francisco offered to pay for the hospital bill and funeral costs.
The SFPD is asking people who have information to call the SFPD tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text to TIP411 to begin a conversation with the SFPD.
Chan Cocom’s funeral was on July 8 in Yucatán, Mexico. Randolph raised more than $17,000 through the GoFundMe page she started to help the Chan Cocom family pay funeral costs, bills and pay rent to find a new home.
Another fundraiser happened on July 15 at El Toro Nightclub in San Bruno Avenue.
“We lost one of the best,” said Randolph.