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VOICES OF TWO VICTIMS' FAMILY AND FRIENDS : Sorting Out the Pain : Donald Aragon: His widow is angry. 'Don was a very loving person. He had a very useful life ended by these thugs.'

April 30, 1993

D onald Aragon, 55, of Northridge, was killed last Halloween by gang members who, police say, tried to carjack his 1988 pickup outside his rental units on graffiti-marred Blythe Street in Panorama City . His wife, Betty, talked to Times staff writer Beverly Beyette: Don had planned to retire in six years. We were going back to the Philippines, where we were born, and he was going to teach people in our hometown, Luna, food processing and how to grow things.

Don was buried the Wednesday after Halloween at Oakwood Cemetery in Chatsworth.

Our friend, Bill Brower, a fellow landlord on Blythe Street, gave the eulogy.

He said, "In Don Aragon's death, all the people on all the Blythe Streets in this world learn a valuable lesson." He spoke of the "fear, apathy and inaction" poisoning our cities.

(She holds up a photograph.)

This snapshot was taken the day he died. It's the trapshooting club from Anheuser-Busch, where Don was a supervisor, on a shoot in Santa Clarita.

He bought that shotgun he's holding, and a .38 caliber revolver, several years earlier, but he'd never fired either of them until that day. I'd gone along to Santa Clarita because he wanted me to learn with the .38.

He said, "You might need to protect yourself." But I wasn't up to shooting that day, so I watched from Don's pickup truck.

Later, we drove to the apartment, he in the pickup, me in my van. New tenants were moving in and, as always, things needed fixing. Don was never a slumlord. We were very much involved in cleaning up the street.

We'd decided to take four kids in the building trick-or-treating in Northridge. That wasn't safe to do where they lived. I'd bought baskets and masks.

I left Don about 5:45. About 7:30, my son and I brought the trick-or-treaters with their candy back to our house. My daughter had fixed chow mein.

I was feeding them when the phone rang. It was the father of one of the kids, very excited. Finally he blurted out, "The cholos (gangs) killed your husband. . . ."

Don and his brother, Manny, had been backing the pickup out of the carport, coming home, when they were surrounded by about a dozen young men. Manny (who got away) said they were all armed. They had masks and costumes. Apparently they planned to drive in the pickup to a Halloween party in Hollywood.

I think they were after the pickup and the shotgun, which they could see. They didn't get the truck; they did take both guns. (Aragon, reaching under his seat for the .38, fatally shot one and wounded another.)

He had often worked there late. I've always warned him. But he'd say, "These are just kids. They'll never harm me." He had even given some of them food and odd jobs at $5 an hour.

Don was always available for anybody. He gave up a Christmas Eve to help a co-worker move. He was a handyman. We bought our house just a year ago, and he'd planted 28 fruit trees and built a shed to shield my orchids from the sun. His other passion was golf.

I'm back at my job as a lab analyst. I will stay in Los Angeles. But I am very angry. Don was a very kind, loving person. He was such an optimist. He had a very useful life only to be ended by these thugs. They must be taken out of our society. Somehow I feel the authorities are not doing enough to eliminate this element.

My flowers are thriving in the shade of the shed. Each time I visit Don's grave, I place a stem of orchids there.

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