Cousin advocates justice for former Kuwait-based Indian family

The shooting of the Alvares family, who were once residents of Kuwait before migrating to America, has left one Kenneth Alvares dead, and his parents, Paula and Russell Alvares in critical condition.

A family member has defended the 32-year-old man shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in a Costco store on Friday night in Corona against reports that the officer felt threatened and was prompted to shoot. The cousin, Rick Shureih, said in a phone interview with a local daily on Sunday night that Kenneth Alvares was nonverbal and had an intellectual disability that gave him the mental capacity of a teenager.

“He was a gentle giant. He’s never been violent in the past. He’s always been very cooperative and kept to himself,” Shureih said.

Corona police paint a different story, and have released a statement that said the off-duty officer was with the Los Angeles Police Department, and was shopping at Costco with his family. The officer was attacked while holding his young child, the Police asserts, the assault which was unprovoked and led the officer to fire his weapon, striking Kenneth Alvares and two of his family members. The officer’s child was not injured.

Corona police divulged no further details about the circumstances leading up to the shooting.

Shureih mentioned that his relatives Russell and Paula Alvares, Kenneth’s parents, are being treated in an intensive care unit since the encounter, with Paula Alvares still in a coma, while Russell’s condition has shown signs of improvement.

Shureih said that he doesn’t know what might have led to the shooting, but as his cousin’s mental condition had declined in recent years, where he no longer spoke, it is unlikely that Kenneth initiated a verbal confrontation.

“It could have been that he bumped into somebody but couldn’t communicate the fact that he was sorry,” Shureih guessed.

He was full of praise for his aunt and uncle as doting parents, saying, “They dedicated their lives to taking care of their son,” and said they are “the sweetest people in the world.”

Officer Greg Kraft of the LAPD said that the officer, who has not been identified, but is  known to be assigned to the department’s Southwest Division, suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital and then discharged.

In a Facebook post on Sunday morning, Shureih shared a photo of Kenneth French and his parents at Universal Studios, and under the picture was written, “Do they look intimidating to you? Did he really have to shoot them all?. I’m posting this picture because the stories on social media have made them out to be the suspects, and the off duty cop the victim.”

Shureih said he was unsure of his cousin’s exact disability, but mentioned that he could drive and cook himself breakfast and sometimes held down part-time jobs, but was unable to live on his own.

Following the shooting, police said in the release of details of the event that the two men had an altercation, when one pulled out a weapon and fatally shot the other. At first, the police said they had arrested a suspect as the alleged shooter inside the store and then taken him to a hospital after he said he was injured before changing their statement, where police said no one was in custody and that there had not been an arrest in the case.

On discovering the biased media reports, Shureih said the family plans to hire a lawyer to advocate on their behalf. “We need witnesses to come forward, We need to know the shooter’s name. We need to get the surveillance tape from Costco. These are things we need to pursue to make sure justice is done.”