Calif. Janitor Is Fatally Stabbed While Preventing Intruder from Entering Building He Cleaned

Tomas Mejia "lost his life protecting the tenants he loved and the tenants that loved him," a fellow union member said

Tomas Mejia
Tomas Mejia. Photo: GoFundMe

Tomas Mejia died having come one step closer to his American dream.

The immigrant from El Salvador, the sole breadwinner for his wife and family, had recently purchased his first home when he was stabbed to death while preventing an intruder from entering a Los Angeles apartment building where he worked as a janitor.

"He died as he lived," said a statement posted by the service workers union SEIU-USWW on a GoFundMe page, "as a protector and hero."

Mejia, 50, was stabbed multiple times in the incident about 2:30 p.m. June 16, police said, reports KTLA.

The suspect, a 17-year-old whose identity was not immediately provided by police, fled on foot and was later taken into custody, according to the outlet.

Mejia was pronounced dead at the scene.

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The suspect apparently was trying to access his girlfriend's apartment in the Park La Brea building and allegedly attacked Mejia while trying to grab his keys to the building, reports KABC.

"We believe Tomas tried to fight to defend himself and make sure the keys to the building were secure so the tenants were safe," Alejandra Valles, a member of the SEIU local that represents employees at the building, told the TV station. "Unfortunately he lost his life protecting the tenants he loved and the tenants that loved him."

"He had this wonderful smile all the time," said Chan Rudrapatna, a friend. "He smiled every single time. He worked so hard."

He added: "He was such a dedicated family man and dedicated worker to Park La Brea."

The GoFundMe statement shared by the service workers union, on which Tomas served as a member of the board, said he "dedicated his life to protecting working people. He was a Peer-to-Peer advocate in the Ya Basta Center, also known as a Compadre; who fought against patriarchy, sexual violence, domestic violence, and the dangers that immigrant workers face on the night shift as janitors."

In a separate statement, the union said: "We lost a genuine and authentic voice that has been silenced by an act of violence. His spirit of fighting for others will live through all of us that he has touched over the years."

"Long live Tomas Mejia, warrior, friend, leader, husband and father."

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