MID-WILSHIRE (CBSLA) — A GoFundMe page set up for a janitor fatally stabbed Wednesday at Park La Brea Apartments has raised more than $40,000.
According to SEIU United Service Workers West, Tomas "Jose" Mejia was working at Park La Brea when he tried to stop an intruder from entering the building. The would-be intruder then stabbed Mejia, who died after being taken to a local hospital.
"He did die fighting to protect," Alejandra Valles, a friend and colleague, said. "He was protecting his janitorial keys that had access to the building and he did not give them up and he unfortunately was murdered."
Authorities said the 17-year-old suspect was taken into custody and a knife was recovered at the scene. Due to his age, police said his name would not be released.
"He died as he lived, as a protector and hero," the union said in an emailed statement. "Tomas is survived by his wife and children. He was the sole provider for his family."
According to SEIU-USWW, Mejia was a member of the union's Justice for Janitors executive board and a "critical part of every struggle and victory that his union had over the last 25 years."
Mejia was also a peer-to-peer advocate in the Ya Basta Center, also known as a compadre, who fought against the patriarchy, sexual violence, domestic violence and the dangers that immigrant workers face on the night shift as janitors, according to the union.
A private vigil was held Thursday for members of the union and his family in Pico-Union where a large memorial is set up outside the union's headquarters.
The money raised will help support Mejia's wife and two children.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story said Mejia was a security guard, as stated by SEIU-UWSS. Coworkers have since clarified that he was a janitor.
for more features.