Roberto Rivera didn’t live with his two children, but he would make a point of spending Father’s Day with them each year. They often went out to dinner together. On Sunday (June 21), however, his 15-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter spent the day alone with their mother.
“We didn’t have the opportunity to tell our father how grateful we are for all he has done for us,” the siblings wrote in a statement shared with the Town Crier. “Whenever we needed something, he was always there to provide for us. He was a humble person. He would never talk about his problems. He only brought happiness.”
This year, Father’s Day fell just two days before Rivera’s suspected killer – 25-year-old Edgar Geovani Lainez-Portillo of Redwood City – was scheduled to enter a plea in the Los Altos murder case; the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office requested a continuance of the June 23 hearing, now moved to Aug. 4.
And so uncertainty for Rivera’s family lingers on. In an effort to help ease their financial burden, Los Altos-based Mothers Against Murder, the nonprofit organization that offered a $10,000 reward for an arrest and conviction in the case, has assisted the mother of Rivera’s children with establishing a memorial fund in his name for their benefit.
Palo Alto resident Roger Smith, Mothers Against Murder’s chairman and co-founder, personally helped the family set up the fund and contributed to it himself, according to Margaret Petros, MAM executive director.
In an interview with the Town Crier this week, the children’s mother described how the money could assist with supporting them now that Rivera cannot.
“It would help a lot with their education, because Roberto was giving money to pay for some of the rent where my children live, and their expenses too, their everyday expenses, food and everything,” she said.
Although the woman does not know Lainez-Portillo, she said she is scared of him and asked that her name not be published.
Rivera, a 48-year-old Union City man, died May 4 in the backyard of a home located in the 1000 block of Highlands Circle, where he was performing masonry work. According to a statement of facts written by Sgt. Cameron Shearer of the Los Altos Police Department, surveillance video at the home shows a man park a blue sports motorcycle at the curb, pull what appears to be a handgun out of his jacket and then rack back the weapon’s action. Shortly afterward, four gunshots are heard and then the motorcycle driver peels away. Rivera died from gunshot wounds to his back and head.
A search of Rivera’s home uncovered a police report connecting him with an ex-girlfriend who said she had dated Lainez-Portillo as well but broke up with him three days before the murder, Shearer wrote. A search of DMV records confirmed Lainez-Portillo owns a blue 2003 Kawasaki motorcycle like the one in the surveillance video.
A second witness said Lainez-Portillo confessed to her about killing someone when she attended a party with him four days after the murder, Shearer wrote.
Officers arrested Lainez-Portillo May 9. He is charged with murder with a firearm enhancement and potentially faces a sentence of 50 years to life in prison.
The mother of Rivera’s children said news of his violent death came as a horrific surprise. She described him as a quiet man who enjoyed taking his children to fish in Half Moon Bay and to watch newly released action films at movie theaters.
“One day he was here and the other day, he’s not here,” she said. “It’s awful. “We’re still in shock. We can’t believe what happened. We still cannot believe he’s not here anymore.”
Contribute to the “Roberto Rivera Memorial Fund” by donating to Wells Fargo account No. 1028956041. For more information on Mothers Against Murder, visit mothersagainstmurder.org.