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Long Beach Remembers

Release Date: 2019-11-08

Last night was a moving and powerful tribute to a Long Beach family who lived their lives being kind to others and giving back to their community. On October 31, Joseph, Raihan, and Omar Awaida lost their lives after being hit by a driver in the Los Cerritos Park neighborhood. The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Long Beach lost a loving father and husband who worked at a family repair shop and was well known in his community, an amazing mother and wife who had just completed her graduate degree in social work from CSULB, and young Omar who at 3 years of age was attending the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center.

The community, neighbors, friends, and members of the family joined in a beautiful remembrance and vigil last night and earlier in the week on the CSULB campus. It's been healing to hear directly from those who knew the family the best. We have committed to Vera and Joe Awaida, Joseph's parents, that we will continue to honor their lives and ensure that their legacy of compassion and goodness lives on.

Long Beach was also struck with another tragedy just two nights before on October 29, at a shooting at a party near Rose Park. Of the 12 people shot, 3 died. We lost Maurice Poe Jr., a young man raised in Long Beach who competed in video game tournaments and had a young daughter named Nia, Melvin Williams who was an avid church goer and who loved to sing R&B and Gospel Music, and Ricardo Torres who was a line cook and has been described by his friends and coworkers as a kind young man who was always smiling and positive.

I met Maurice Poe Sr., the father of Maurice Jr., earlier in the week at a vigil and blessing for those lost at the location of the shooting, and the home of Chanchenda Hou. Hou and his wife Da Cheng hosted a blessing and cleansing ceremony that in Buddhist and Cambodian tradition, happens on the 7th day after the tragedy. Maurice wants to ensure that we bring justice and some closure for his family, and I told him our Long Beach Police Department is doing everything they can to bring anyone responsible to justice.

In both of these tragic and horrific events, lives have been lost. As we pray, reach out, and support these families with love, please continue to also keep our first responders in your thoughts.

Long Beach will continue to stand with these families 100%.