El Salvador fam­ily mourns teen’s ma­chete slay­ing in Florida


Jose Amaya Guardado’s mother said she brought her son to the United States nine years ago to es­cape the vi­o­lence ram­pant in their na­tive El Salvador. But now his fam­ily is mourn­ing his death in what po­lice de­scribe as a bru­tal ma­chete at­tack.

Mi­ami-Dade po­lice have charged four of Amaya Guardado’s class­mates with sec­ond-de­gree mur­der: Ka­heem Ar­belo, 20; Jonathan Lu­cas, 18; Chris­tian Colon, 19; and De­siray Strickland, 18. De­tec­tives said they’re ex­pect­ing to make a fifth ar­rest.

“I brought my son from there be­cause they were killing peo­ple,” Lu­cia Guardado said in Span­ish at the fam­ily’s south Mi­ami-Dade home, in the south­east­ern penin­sula state of Florida. “I never imag­ined they would do some- thing like that to my son here.”

Ac­cord­ing to an ar­rest re­port, the sus­pects had planned the at­tack two weeks in ad­vance.

The re­port ac­cuses them of lur­ing Amaya Guardado, 17, to a wooded area near Homestead Job Corps, a live-in school and vo­ca­tional train­ing pro­gram for at-risk stu­dents run by the U.S. Depart­ment of La­bor. That’s where Amaya Guardado was hacked to death with a ma­chete and left in a shal­low grave that the sus­pects had dug in ad­vance, po­lice said.

Fam­ily mem­bers be­gan search­ing for Amaya Guardado af­ter he went miss­ing June 28. His brother dis­cov­ered his body a few days later.

Amaya Guardado’s fa­ther, San­tos Amaya, said his son be­gan at­tend­ing the school months be­fore his death. Amaya said his son — the youngest of six sib­lings — wanted to learn how to be a me­chanic, but the fam­ily didn’t know the school took in stu­dents with crim­i­nal records.

He said his son was room­mates with Ar­belo, who the po­lice re­port de­scribes as the pri­mary at­tacker in the group ac­cused of killing Amaya Guardado. Po­lice haven’t dis­closed any mo­tive in the death.

Amaya Guardado’s par­ents said he was a quiet boy who kept to him­self for the most part and never both­ered any­one. The par­ents said they be­lieve the sus­pects had been bul­ly­ing the younger, be­spec­ta­cled boy and tak­ing money from him be­fore his death.

“When you go there, they only show you the good,” San­tos Amaya said of the school, speak­ing in Span­ish. “They don’t show you the ugly.”

A tele­phone mes­sage left late Fri­day with the U.S. Depart­ment of La­bor wasn’t im­me­di­ately re­turned. In a state­ment re­leased Wed­nes­day, a La­bor Depart­ment spokesman said se­cu­rity is their top pri­or­ity.

In the ar­rest re­port, po­lice said Strickland com­plained about miss­ing the start of the beat­ing be­cause she walked away to uri­nate in the woods.

The school is lo­cated in a re­mote area of Mi­ami-Dade and is sur­rounded by wooded ar­eas, with small roads lead­ing into the woods but nowhere else.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Amaya Guardado was or­dered to lie in the shal­low grave af­ter the ini­tial at­tack, but he made one last at­tempt to fight off the as­sailants. That’s when po­lice say Ar­belo struck Amaya Guardado sev­eral more times with the ma­chete un­til his face caved in. The sus­pects then pushed Amaya Guardado into the grave and buried him, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Strickland and another sus­pect stayed be­hind af­ter the killing to have sex, it added.

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