Vocal mother of homicide victim speaks up after hiatus battling cancer
■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
Corinna Moreno, a local champion for victims of violence, made a surprising reappearance at the Hemet City Council meeting Tuesday, March 13.
“I disappeared because I was diagnosed with cancer,” said Moreno, in response to her absence at the meetings she used to frequent. “I’ve really had a hard time, but I’m already done with my treatments; I’m done with everything.”
Moreno had gained a large following during the events that emerged from the murder of her 25-year-old son, Daniel Ramirez, who was shot in public November of 2016. Since Daniel’s murder, Moreno made it her mission to crusade for justice for not only her son, but for the other victims of homicide in Hemet as well. She regularly attended council meetings as a grieving, yet vocal mother, demanding answers from city officials and the Hemet Police Department for the stalled investigation into her son’s case. Moreno took to social media with her Facebook page, “Homicide Families Seeking Justice,” to offer representation for other families of victims, and to bring awareness to the violence in the community. She hosted numerous justice rallies on busy Hemet streets, and frequently made visits to the police station.
“I’m thankful for the police department,” said Moreno, who commended HPD for their participation in the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley Gang Task Force. However, she was quick to point to the fact that she had accused the department of corruption just a year ago, and now former HPD officers in San Diego are alleging misconduct and racism within the department. “Every spot has good apples and bad apples, and it just so happened to be here,” said Moreno.
Moreno addressed the city’s declaration of a “War on Crime” last April, a heavy-handed press event many believe was a political stunt staged by Hemet city officials in response to Moreno’s persistent pressure. In addition, HPD had announced that it would be offering rewards of $10,000 for crime tips leading to the arrest(s) of certain homicide investigations. The following week, brothers Manuel and Moses Oláez were arrested on suspicion of murdering Daniel Ramirez.
Since Moreno’s last visit to the council chambers, Michael Perciful has succeeded Linda Krupa’s position as mayor, and former police chief Dave Brown has retired with Rob Webb taking his place. Even so, Moreno’s latest criticisms for the city focused on its ability to still look the other way in the face of crime.
The Oláez brothers, Hemet residents, had been accused of multiple counts of illegal possession of firearms by HPD before their arrests in April, according to Moreno.
“If you guys would’ve kept them boys locked up in September, my son wouldn’t have died.”
(California Penal Code 29800 PC states that the unlawful possession of a firearm is a felony. Those convicted could face 16 months, or two to three years in county jail, and/or a maximum of a $10,000 fine.)
She recalled “Operation Valley Vigilance” as well, a massive sweep maneuver last June, which arrested 24 people in two hours, seizing a total of 77 firearms and four pounds of narcotics.
“Why weren’t those guns ran to see how many other murders were done with them?” Moreno asked, who believes that the same guns rotated within the community between thugs. “Why hasn’t the Males family gotten any justice when there were 50 people standing there watching a marine get stabbed?” Moreno, whose own son is in the military, referred to Nicholas Males, a 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran who was stabbed to death in a downtown Hemet parking lot two years ago. Males’ family was one of the groups that began to speak out in response to Moreno’s encouragement, however today, Males’ case has gone cold.
“You guys are held responsible for the murders, because you guys are not doing anything about it,” Moreno told the council. She suggested contracting with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, as Hemet’s sister-city, San Jacinto, does. “You guys need to get out there, besides Karlee [Meyer], and get to know your residents, like some of these officers do.”
Moreno closed her nine-minute public comment with a promise that she would be returning to Hemet City Council meetings regularly once again, so long as she is not in the hospital. She and the rest of Homicide Families Seeking Justice are planning another awareness rally soon, coining the phrase, “Break the Silence.”