The first time Javier Campos saw his sister Barbara Rojas’s new house—just a couple of weeks ago — he pulled up and said, “Oh this is perfect.”
Perfect, for BBQs, for big family get-togethers, for the kids. In short, perfect for Campos’ favorite pastime—hanging out with the people he loved.
Barbara said her brother had big plans for a Labor Day barbecue at her house. But just days before the party, on Sept. 1, he was shot and killed during an argument in the Taco Bell parking lot at 23rd and Barrett.
The Richmond Police Department says the killing was a “family dispute.” One suspect, Ismael Carrillo, is in custody and facing arraignment later this week. RPD spokesperson Detective Nicole Abetkov said the department would not elaborate on the details of the dispute while it was still investigating.
Barbara, her husband Walter Rojas and her sister Janet Comparan say that more than anything else Campos was a good, lovable person, who was never violent and would avoid confrontation.
“He was a people person,” Walter said.
“A good-hearted person,” Barbara added.
Campos was born in 1974 and grew up in the Mission District in San Francisco, where his family said he knew practically everyone in the neighborhood.
As he got older, Campos fell in love with ‘70s era muscle cars. On many nights he could be found out with friends, cruising the Mission in his light-metallic blue Monte Carlo.
“People would offer to buy it off him all of the time,” Comparan said of the car. “That was his baby.”
Campos was known for his ability to make people laugh at the smallest details. Even now, his family said they can’t quite put their finger on what it was that made him so funny. Barbara said it was the way he spoke in Spanish, often mispronouncing words—something that amused the family endlessly. Comparan said it was the way he’d tease her and the other sisters by absurdly mimicking the way they walked, or talked.
For his part, Campos was known first as Baby Face—and later, at his request, just Face. Campos had a wide, open face with big cheeks and bright brown eyes. Looking through dozens of family pictures, his sisters and brother-in-law couldn’t find one where he didn’t have a playful smile.
Campos was a “family man,” his family said, and had four kids: Christine Ashley Campos, 20; Kassandra Natalie Campos, 16; Javier Campos III, 12; and Julian Jesus Campos, 5.
Although he had separated from the girls’ mother he kept in touch with his daughters. “He was very active in their lives,” said Walter. “He would see them, he had contact with them.”
His two sons, Javier (“Baby”) and Julian (“Daddy”), lived with Campos and their mother, Dina Carrillo, in Richmond.
At over 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, the family said Campos was good at his chosen work—construction. “He was built for it,” Walter said. “He did like it. He was a big frame guy, you know—tall, strong.”
A few years ago, as construction jobs became scarce, Campos took to selling drugs to help pay the bills.
“The only reason I see that he ever did that was to provide for his kids,” Walter said. “It’s one of those unfortunate circumstances where there’s not enough work, but you still got to pay rent. Your kids still need things.”
In 2010, Campos was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for selling narcotics. They said Campos came back from “the ranch” changed.
“He was definitely different when he came out,” Comparan said. “He seemed more motivated to do good.”
Campos, his family said, was a model prisoner: he earned his GED, kept himself and his living area spotless, made plans to get out of debt and fix up his house, and found faith in a higher power. “Javier accepted Christ while there,” Walter said.
Campos was released from prison 11 days before he was killed. In that brief time he’d already started making repairs to the house he shared with Dina, their children and her two sons from a previous relationship. He’d secured a job and was set to begin working at a drywall company in San Francisco after Labor Day.
Comparan, who said she was not as close to her brother in the last few years, said it’s hard for her knowing she does not have the chance to reconnect. “We’re going to miss him dearly,” she said as tears rolled down her face. “He just got out of prison and I only got to see him one day — Thursday, the week before he passed. I only saw him like one minute.”
The family said they’re hoping to see the case go to trial. “We just laid Javier to rest today,” Walter said. “We are searching for closure now.”
“And justice,” Comparan added quietly.