On Monday night they prayed, on Tuesday the family of Erica Perez will lay her to rest. Friday was the last time anyone would see Erica alive. She was shot twice outside her work place, at the Cingular Call Center in North Lubbock. The accused shooter, Raymond Montelongo, is Erica's ex-husband and the father of their 3-year-old child.
Erica was born and raised in Slaton. In high school, she was a cheerleader and good student. Her family remembers Erica as a giving person, always putting herself before others. NewsChannel 11 sat down with Erica's brother Jerome who says her greatest accomplishment was being a loving and caring mother to her 3-year-old son Aligha.
"Aligha knows his mother is gone because he's asking, 'Mama are you here?' And he asks us why we are crying." Erica's big brother Jerome says the hardest part of losing his sister, is trying to explain to his 3-year-old nephew that his mother is never coming home. "He saw her and tried to understand and he said, 'Mom you gotta wake up, you gotta wake up, mom."
But Aligha didn't only lose a mother, his father, Erica's ex-husband, is now in jail for the shooting death. Jerome says Erica's ex-husband had a drinking problem, and it was probably that combined with jealously that sent him over the edge. "Her spirit lives with us, her spirit lives in our hearts. If you're a believer you know she's in a better place."
Erica's entire family believes, and they say it's their bond with God that has helped give them the strength to give the accused killer a message. "It's hard, but I want to forgive you."
The family also wanted to tell Erica's story so that other women and men in abusive relationships might see this story and be able to see warning signs before it's too late.