Monday Oct 10 2011
Friends mourn loss of murder victim
By: Laura Newell, Telegraph staff writer
Youth group raises funds to help cover Minor Leon’s burial expenses
After the recent stabbing death of a Folsom teen, some residents are trying to pick up the pieces of the tragic event. Folsom’s Minor Leon, 19, was killed after being involved in a fatal altercation with Joshua Allen Atkins, a 22-year-old transient from Folsom. According to police, it may have been the result of a drug deal gone bad. Atkins is now facing murder charges after he allegedly stabbed Leon. He is expected in Sacramento County Superior Court for his second appearance at 8:30 a.m., Oct. 13. Leon’s friends are working to help bring closure to his family. Leon was a frequent visitor at Powerhouse Ministries in Folsom. Pastor Nancy Atchley, founder and director of Powerhouse Ministries, said she knew Leon his entire life. “I’ve known Minor since he was born,” Atchley said. “His family was one of the first families I met after starting Powerhouse. “Minor was always involved as a child and in junior high school, but not as much in high school. We still had a relationship with him throughout high school,” she said. “It’s a huge loss for us. He was one of our kids.” She said all of Leon’s friends gathered together after his death to mourn. “After it happened, about 60 teens and us (at Powerhouse gathered) in front of the crime scene,” she said. “They just stood there in silence honoring their friend.” Atchley said his friends wanted to do something to help, but didn’t know what to do or how. She said they decided to hold a car wash fundraiser to help cover his burial expenses. “For his mom, and their Hispanic culture, having a burial is very important,” Atchley said. About 75 Powerhouse Ministries “Ignite” Youth Group members came out to help raise money on Thursday, Oct. 6, in front of the organization’s facility. Josh Levine, 25, was Leon’s youth pastor and knew him since he was 5 years old. “I found out Sunday morning,” Levine said. “I was woken up by phone calls from my youth group members. One of the hardest things of being his youth pastor was not being able to protect him that night. “He was a good kid who went through some rough years,” Levine said. “While Minor did hang out with a tougher crowd, he was always one of the really gentle, respectful and honest guys in his group. He was not a gang member.” Levine said Leon never knew his father and grew up in a bilingual house with his mother and brothers. “When things got hard for him in high school, he pulled away from the church a little, but always visited us frequently,” Levine said. “I think his hardest thing was not knowing his father and his mother having a language barrier. It was a lot for him to handle at his age.” Levine said many times, the youth group became a family to the kids and teens. A few of Leon’s closest friends spoke to the Telegraph about who he was. Leon’s family chose not to comment because of the ongoing criminal investigation. Daniel Murillo, 17, attended Folsom Lake High School with Leon. “He was pretty happy all the time,” Murillo said. “He was always joking and laughing. He was good to those he loved. He was always smiling. “If I could see him again, I would tell him I love him and I don’t know what I’ll do without him,” Murillo said. “I lost people in my life, but no one as close as him. He was my best friend.” Jesse Garcia, 18, also fondly recalled their friend. “No matter the day or the situation, he always had a smile on his face,” Garcia said. “It showed me to live today so tomorrow you’ll be stronger. Every event and day is a lesson in the end.” He said the only way to stop these tragic deaths is to stop doing drugs. “He was the most solid person you’ll ever meet,” Garcia said. “He was the most honest and open person. He always thought about other people before thinking about himself, definitely.” Trevor Trimberger, 22, of Rancho Cordova, said he was like an older brother to Leon. “He would always make everyone feel included,” Trimberger said. “He would take care of you as much as he could.” Trimberger explained that at one point of his life he lived on the street in his car, and Leon would always bring him food and clothes, doing anything he could to help. “He always stood up for someone for the right reasons. He always stood up for the right thing. He was very fair, caring and the best guy,” Trimberger said. “He was a good friend. We’ll miss him, definitely.” The fatal alteration occurred just before midnight on Saturday, Oct. 1, a Folsom Police officer was driving in the 600 block of East Bidwell Street when he saw Atkins run across the street in front of his marked patrol car, said Sgt. Jason Browning, with the Folsom Police Department. When the officer caught up to Atkins a couple of blocks away, the suspect directed the officer to a knife hidden nearby. Leon was found lying face down, non-responsive and without a pulse on the sidewalk in front of 616 E. Bidwell St. in Folsom.