Slain restaurateur a fighter for family, community
Friends and colleagues of Otaez Mexican Restaurant owner Jesus “Chuy” Campos are mourning what they called the senseless death of a man who built a trio of successful restaurants from scratch and contributed much to the communities he served.
Campos was killed outside his family’s original Oakland restaurant Friday morning in what police are describing as a botched robbery attempt. Police are seeking two suspects in the killing, they said at a press conference Friday that was attended by Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who said he knew Campos for 35 years.
“Jesus was always a fighter. He fought for his family, he fought for his employees, he fought for his community,” said Mario Juarez of the Oakland Latino Merchants Association, which has donated $20,000 toward the reward fund for information about Campos’s killers. “To say that we are shocked and angered … is to say very little.”
De La Fuente said Campos worked in a foundry after immigrating from Mexico and that he built his three restaurants from scratch. His International Avenue restaurant was popular with local politicians and police; his Alameda restaurant opened in March 2006.
Jose Duenas, chief executive officer and president of Alameda County’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said Campos cooked and his wife, Soccoro, served as waitress when they first opened the Otaez Mexicatessen in Oakland.
“We cried this morning,” Duenas said. “We’re angry now.”
Locals who knew Campos also described him as a man who worked hard for his family and was very involved in the community. The restaurant hosted a number of community gatherings and raised funds for local causes.
“They’re very kind, very generous, very involved,” Kathy Moehring, former executive director of the West Alameda Business Association, said of Campos’s family. Moehring described Campos’s killing as “senseless and horrible.”
Campos and his family started helping out Alameda’s Boys and Girls Club even before they opened Otaez on Webster Street, the club’s executive director, George Phillips, said Friday. He said the restaurant – which is run by Campos’s son, Roy, and often sees his wife, Socorro, helming the kitchen – has sponsored many of the club’s events, provided food for meetings and even employed some of the youths the club serves.
“Everyone at the Boys and Girls Club is saddened by this,” Phillips said.
Political and business leaders who attended the press conference at Oakland police headquarters described Campos as a pillar of the community who mentored other business owners, and Oakland Chief Batts promised a stronger police presence in the Fruitvale neighborhood where Campos was killed.
“He was really loved,” Juarez said.
Oakland Police Lt. Brian Medeiros said that at 5:36 a.m. today, Campos was accosted by two suspects as he made his usual half-block walk to work at his International Avenue restaurant. He said they shot Campos after a botched robbery attempt and fled.
Medeiros described the suspects as two African American males between the ages of 21-35. He said They fled in a gray 2000 Buick Regal or Pontiac with tinted windows, 20-inch wheels and stock rims.
Police are offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects, which includes the $20,000 from business owners. Oakland’s Mayor Quan said she has asked Gov. Jerry Brown to increase the reward amount.
Police are asking anyone with information to call them at 238-7959 or at their Crime Stoppers number, 777-8572.