Candlelight vigil held for local teacher - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Candlelight vigil held for local teacher who died after fight with off-duty deputy

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SOUTH PARK (CBS 8) -  A candlelight vigil was held Friday evening for Gabriel Vanegas, a first-grade teacher who died following a fight with an off-duty Sheriff's deputy and a teenager.

"There is no words to describe what everybody who loved him is going through," said Victor Acosta, one of Vanegas' closest friends.

More than a hundred of the beloved teacher's family members, friends, colleagues and young students attended the vigil, outside the McGill School of Success in South Park, where he had taught.

"Gabriel was a loving father, teacher, brother and friend," said another close friend, Laura Carrillo.

The father of a pair of two-year-old boys died Sunday night following a fight at an El Cajon mobile home park.

Sheriff's homicide investigators say Vanegas drove to the park to drop off his son to his ex-girlfriend, who allegedly confronted him about speeding through the property.

"By her account, he was trying to push her into the cab of his truck, and at that point she started to yell," Sheriff's Department Lt. Dennis Brugos said.

Brugos says moments later, Vanegas was then pulled away by off-duty Deputy Luis Escobar Jr., who is Vanegas' ex-girlfriend's boyfriend.

"He grabbed him from behind and exactly where the position of his hands or arms were I can't say with any certainty, but they both actually fell backwards with the deputy falling first and Vanegas on top of him," Brugos said.

Authorities say after the short altercation, Escobar asked his girlfriend's 16-year-old son, who was also allegedly involved in the incident, to call 911.

"(Vanegas) kind of went limp and the deputy rolled him off of him, because at that time he was on top of the deputy, and when the deputies and fire personnel got there (Escobar) was checking him for a pulse," Brugos said.

Vanegas was pronounced dead about four hours later at the hospital. His exact cause of death is not being released because his autopsy report isn't final and has been sealed.

Gabriel's brother Arturo says he believes his brother was viciously attacked.

"Of course he was attacked," Arturo Vanegas told News 8 before Friday's vigil. "We went to pick his body up and he's got a big bruise on his eye, and some scratches right here... Of course he was attacked."

Sheriff's investigators say it's likely the autopsy report will be final within a week and then unsealed. At this point, Deputy Escobar's work status is currently under review by his commanders.

Funeral services for Gabriel Vanegas will be held Saturday, February 12 from 4pm to 9pm at the Community Mortuary, 855 Broadway, in Chula Vista. It is open to the public.

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