Almost 100 people gathered in Pioneer Park to remember a man they described as “giving,” who was found shot to death a few yards from where they stood Friday.
Conception “Chon” Catano, 46, was found around 11 p.m. June 25 on Wallis Avenue, just outside the park. He had been shot multiple times, according to a brief statement released Monday by the Gustine Police Department.
He had been in Gustine for about two years, where his parents live. But Catano grew up in Morgan Hill.
Carlos Jimenez, 43, came over the Pacheco Pass from his home in Gilroy to take part in the prayers and candle lighting at the park in memory of his cousin. Jimenez and several others at the park grew up in the same Morgan Hill neighborhood.
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“He was a very loving person,” Jimenez said. “He had an open heart, open mind.”
Police said Catano was taken to Memorial Hospital in Los Banos, where he was pronounced dead. Police confirmed they were familiar with Catano, who had been cited or booked more than once for drug-related allegations.
He was a very loving person. He had an open heart, open mind.
Carlos Jimenez, 43, of Gilroy, the victim’s cousin
His family and friends said he was much more than his mistakes. Dori Prado of Morgan Hill grew up in that same apartment complex.
“All of us growing up in this complex, many of us come from broken families,” the 44-year-old said. “But, many of us got out.”
Prado, wiping tears from behind her sunglasses, said Catano was always looking to help others. She said she organizes an event in Morgan Hill each October called Living Above the Influence, and Catano would speak every year to try to get young people to steer clear of drugs.
Family members said Catano competed as a Golden Gloves boxer as a featherweight when he was 17. He was also into martial arts training, they said.
Catano’s younger brother, Louie, said one of his fondest memories was his older brother teaching him how to ride a bike. “My brother didn’t deserve to die like this,” the 39-year-old said while fighting back emotion.
A number of family members and friends relayed stories about how Catano would go out of his way to help others without being asked. “Chon had the biggest heart I’ve seen,” said Alicia Catano, a sister-in-law.
My brother didn’t deserve to die like this.
Louie Catano, 39, of Morgan Hill, the victim’s brother
The 47-year-old from Gilroy said her brother-in-law was shy at times, but always looking to lend a hand.
Signs hanging on the park’s fence read “RIP Chon.” The family displayed photos of Catano wearing an Oakland Raiders jacket or A’s hat, and others depicted him as a child posing in family portraits. The group prayed in Spanish and English before lighting candles.
Police Chief Doug Dunford said no arrests have been made related to Catano’s death, but officers continue to investigate and conduct interviews.
Jimenez said Catano was a well-loved uncle, brother, cousin, son and friend.
“My cousin wasn’t out here long, but I do want Gustine to know we’re bringing this love and support out here,” he said.