OGDEN — The employees who worked by her side in the kitchen called her “Mari.” Friends called her “Helena.” And for a host of brothers and sisters, her four children and her three grandchildren, she was irreplaceable.
Maria Sanchez, 47, died Monday after a shooting early Sunday morning, Aug. 13. Bullets pierced windows and exterior walls of her home at 314 28th St. as she and her family slept.
Two 16-year-old boys were arrested Tuesday in connection with the homicide. They have not yet been charged, according to Geoffrey Fattah, public information officer with the Utah Courts.
Authorities have not released information about why the teenagers allegedly fired at the Sanchez home.
Sanchez’s 15-year-old daughter has asked the Standard-Examiner not to publish any other family members’ names out of concern for privacy. She is still in disbelief.
“I just want people to know that she was a great mom,” Sanchez’s daughter said. “She was a great everything. She could take care of herself on her own, she never needed anyone’s support but she loved having all of us around. She was a great person.”
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Sanchez’s daughter lived with her in the home on 28th Street and was there when the shooting occurred. The teenager was not injured. She said she will now have to move in with an aunt.
“The whole community has been very helpful,” the girl said.
Sanchez’s 22-year-old son traveled from his home in Stockton, California, to be with his family in Ogden in the wake of his mother’s death.
“She was an innocent, sleeping woman and she didn’t deserve to go out like that,” her son said. “She never once had drama with anybody, never fought with anybody. All she did was spread love and peace and happiness.”
At La Puente, a Mexican restaurant at 335 12th St. in Ogden, a foil-covered box sits near the cash register, and a hand-written sign welcomes donations for the Sanchez family in both English and Spanish. Sanchez had worked in the kitchen at La Puente for six months, according to co-owners Sandra and Jesus Barbosa.
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“She was the first woman to work in the back — it’s all men in the kitchen,” Sandra Barbosa said. “That’s why I was surprised when she first came in and said she wanted to work in the back. She said it was because she didn’t speak a lot of English.”
Sanchez told Barbosa she knew how to make flour tortillas, as she was originally from Michoacán, Mexico. Barbosa was skeptical, because tortillas can be difficult, but Sanchez proved herself.
“It’s really sad, it’s really, really hard for us,” Barbosa said. “She was really hard-working. On time, all the time, never missed work. She was a nice lady.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up by a family member to help pay for Sanchez’s funeral. Loved ones are traveling from Jalisco, Mexico, as well as parts of Nevada and California, for Sanchez’s funeral.
“She was very serious, but at the same time, she was so happy and so funny,” Sanchez’s daughter said. “She always tried to see the good in everyone. Her main focus was her family.”