El Camino College The Union

Jose Tobar

Jose Tobar, Senior Staff Writer

Jose Tobar is the photo editor for The Union newspaper team and Warrior Life Magazine at El Camino College. Tobar is currently applying his skills as a photojournalist and student reporter since first joining the publication in the 2018-2019 school year. In that time, he has enjoyed covering a variety of stories that have affected the ECC community. He could not have done without his morning cup of joe. 

All content by Jose Tobar
Juan Carlos Hernandezs family poses for a photo next to his tombstone at the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Culver City toward the end of the memorial mass held in his honor on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. From left to right: Jose Guadalupe Hernandez (father), Yajaira Hernandez (mother), and his brothers, Joseph Hernandez, 24, and Gabriel Hernandez, 18. One year ago my life was shattered in a blink of an eye, Yajaira Hernandez said. I had to fight the system in order for them to help me find Juan. I jumped through circle and asked for the help from my family and my community. I started a hashtag #helpmefindjuan to put pressure on LAPD to do their job. My gut told me from day one that the dispensary had something to do with my babys disappearance and the first week no one believed me. I was grateful to have an army to help me bring my son home. I was grateful to have been able to be my sons voice. Today, I continue fighting to bring justice to my son. I am still doing all I can so that those who took his life pay for what they did. Nothing will ever bring my son back and I will live with a hole in my heart forever. Losing my son has destroyed me and has changed me in so many ways. I am just grateful and blessed to have a family who loves and supports me unconditionally and who walks side by side with me. Juan is gone in body but his spirit will live forever through those who love and miss him. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
Family and friends gather around Juan Carlos Hernandezs grave where Jose Guadalupe Hernandez, far right, attaches a floral bouquet with his sons name to the tombstone where some of his ashes are buried at the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Culver City. While describing Juan Carlos Hernandezs father, Yajaira Hernandez said: I see a man who los his son...A man who is filled with so much pain but hides it because he has to be strong for his other two sons. I see a grieving father.  Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
Members and friends of the Hernandez family prepare to tape a printed poster with three images of Juan Carlos Hernandez over the wall outside the dispensary where he worked and was allegedly murdered by suspects Ethan Kedar Astaphan, Sonita Heng and Weijia Peng on Sept. 22, 2020. The case is ongoing. Astaphan and Hang were eventually captured and arrested last November. Peng is currently in custody in Turkey where he is attempting to fight his extradition to the United States. All year I wanted to go back to the last place [Juan] took his last breath, Juan Hernandezs mother, Yajaira Hernandez, said. That place was where we wanted to do a small vigil and pray for Juans soul. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
Six-year-old Erick Melendez, wanders outside the dispensarys storefront where his cousin, Juan Carlos Hernandez was murdered on Sept. 22, 2020. Melendez was very close to Juan and two would spend time together almost every day, Yajaira Hernandez said. Hernandezs family friends will place a sidewalk memorial outside its wall. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
Family members and friends release balloons into the sky in a symbolic gesture honoring the memory of murdered El Camino College student, Juan Carlos Hernandez outside the church grounds at the Saint Vincent de Paul Parish on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. We released the balloons as a symbol of our love for Juan. Sending our love, our prayers and thoughts, Hernandezs mother Yajaira Hernandez said. It represents family, unity and love. Every balloon that was released had a little bit of our pain in it. The loss of an amazing son, brother, cousin and friend. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
Juan Carlos Hernandezs father, Jose Guadalupe Hernandez, takes a balloon from Stephanie Pineda on the lawn of the Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Los Angeles. The balloons with the inscription Forever in Our Hearts will be released in a symbolical gesture honoring his memory outside the church grounds. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
Joseph Hernandez, 24, Juan Carlos Hernandezs older brother, carries the urn that holds his brothers ashes outside the Saint Vincent de Paul Parish at the end of the memorial mass held in his honor. Our family had previous conversations of what to do when it was our time, Yajaira Hernandez said. We all decided that cremation was what we were gonna do. This was something we all have agreed to. So yes, Juans wishes were to be cremated. Half of his ashes are in that urn that I keep at home...To me [that urn] represents a neverending cycle fo life. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
Juan Carlos Hernandezs mother, Yajaira Hernandez, receives a hug from a woman at the conclusion of the mass memorial at the Saint Paul de Vincent Parish in Los Angeles. Her sister Stephanie Pineda, far right, stands back with hands clasped. Losing my nephew has been difficult because it has changed everything, Pineda said. I lost someone close to me. We had a very close relationship as aunt and nephew. Theres not a day that goes by that I dont think of him. It feels like yesterday. It doesnt even feel [like] a year. Its difficult to talk about him or think of a memory without having a tear drop go down buy face or having a knot in my throat. His loss is something that I will never get over...Theres always that what if question.  Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
Juan Carlos Hernandezs aunt, Stephanie Pineda, left, prepares a set of balloons that read Forever in Our Hearts while her son, Nathan Melendez, 11, looks on during the Memorial Mass in Hernandezs honor on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. I knew the 22nd was going to be a difficult day for my sister, Pineda said. I took the initiative to prepare the mass for Juan...and tried to make that memorial mass as smooth as possible for my sister. That day was a difficult day to relive every moment we went through a year ago. It was very important form me that my sister had the support of her love ones. The memorial was was important to celebrate Juans life, to honor him. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
Juan Carlos Hernandezs mother, Yajaira Hernandez, prays during the memorial mass held in remembrance of her son at the Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
An altar with a cardboard cutout of Juan Carlos Cookie Hernandezs image and urn adorns the entrance to the church pulpit at the Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. The altar was designed by Classroom of Compassions David Maldonado and Noah Reich, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles. Hernandezs aunt, Stephanie Pineda, said during a phone interview that Hernandez got his nickname Cookie when he was still a baby. His brother Joseph, when he was young could never pronounce his name right, Pineda said. Joseph started calling him cookie. Ever since then we all began to call him [that] since he was a baby. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

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September 29, 2021
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Jose Tobar