By T.A. Hendrickson
A disabled, homeless man known as “Emilio” to outreach volunteers and local residents died in his tent in front of the Rite Aid on Eagle Rock Boulevard in Glassell Park on August 21.
Emilio was “older, missing one leg, and was clearly in need of immediate medical care and housing,” wrote Nick Monsour, an outreach volunteer, in an email to other volunteers announcing the death. Monsour, who called the death “very sad and deeply angering,” noted that Emilio had been hospitalized a few weeks ago but returned to his tent upon being discharged.
Monsour and other volunteers know little about Emilio’s past. His English was limited and he was reserved about his story. But they say he had friends among those who live in tents on Eagle Rock Boulevard near Verdugo Road and so was often seen, sitting in his wheelchair, surrounded by others, talking and laughing. Emilio’s friends also shared supplies with him and would push him in his wheelchair to get food and take showers at the Glassell Park Recreation Center when it was open. “His smile will be hard to forget,” wrote Monsour.
The Sentinel emailed the L.A. County Medical Examiner-Coroner to try to find out more about Emilio. “The decedent’s ID at this time is ‘John Doe #283,” ’ a spokesperson wrote in reply. “We are still working on positively identifying the decedent and have not located family.”
The spokesperson also wrote that the cause of death is “deferred,” meaning that additional tests to determine a cause were requested after an autopsy.
In the days after this death, Emilio’s wheelchair, left near his tent, became a small shrine, with rosaries, flowers and prayer candles.
A memorial gathering at the scene of his death on Saturday, August 29, was attended by friends, neighbors and outreach volunteers.
Some attendees told Monsour that they had known Emilio decades ago, when he was a butcher in a meat/fish market that had once been located near the spot where he pitched his tent. Several attendees said he was from Mexico, but they didn’t know where in Mexico or his last name.
“Everyone said how generous Emilio was and that he always shared or gave away everything he had to others,” wrote Monsour. “He needed more and deserved more. Shame on this city.”