SAN DIEGO — Help has arrived for the family of a U.S. citizen who was murdered in a Tijuana mass killing.
San Diegans donated enough money over the weekend to bring Phillip Caldwell's body back home to the United States. Meanwhile, Dulce Rosario and her three children arrived Tuesday morning for their appointment with an ICE agent at the federal building downtown.
The kids are dealing with the loss of their father, Phillip Caldwell, a disabled U.S. citizen who was shot and killed in Tijuana two weeks ago in a mass shooting that killed six people. Caldwell's murder happened just two days after Dulce, who is a Mexican national, crossed into the United States with her three children at San Ysidro to claim asylum.
The family had waited four months in Tijuana for their number to come up so they could cross legally. The children – ages two, seven and ten – were born in Chiapas, Mexico and had never set foot in the United States before now.
Dulce now is fitted with a GPS tracking device on her ankle.
Catholic Charities of San Diego is helping the family navigate the asylum process.
“We know that tragedy struck the family and that's obviously the worst case scenario that could have happened. But she is fighting her case from within and that is always better that being outside,” said Hector Oviedo, an immigration services representative with Catholic Charities.
On Friday, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher launched a GoFundMe page to help the family raise money to transport Caldwell's body back to Alabama.
“You want to hug the kids and tell the mom it's going to be okay. And this just seems like small step we can take to try and do that,” said Supervisor Fletcher.
Dozens of people donated – raising almost $4,000 – including a $1,000 donation by the CEO of Manpower of San Diego, Mel Katz.
The Spielman Family Foundation also stepped up, donating the remainder of the money needed for mortuary and funeral services in San Diego and air transportation for final burial in Alabama.
The family expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support.
“I have to tell them thank you, to everybody that helped us. And, I really appreciate it with all my heart. And I know there are real good people around that did that, and I say thank you again,” said the widow, Dulce Rosario.
Caldwell's father is traveling to San Diego from Fresno to identify his son's remains in the Tijuana morgue.
Memorial services are pending in both San Diego and Alabama.