A grieving Richmond mom says she’s grateful for community members who are helping to keep the memory of her son alive.
Josie Martinez’s son, Otilio “Nico” Martinez, was walking home from work on Sept. 19, 2016, when he was shot more than 40 times at close range in front of Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church at 5150 Bayview Ave. Multiple young men believed to be gang members were arrested in connection with the homicide. Nico was not part of a gang.
The killing of a well-liked, optimistic young man struck a chord in the community. Since his death, his mother Josie Martinez has done everything she can to create a lasting memorial to Nico.
On Wednesday, she got some help. The Point Richmond Business Association presented Josie with a banner honoring Nico that will soon be permanently displayed along the fencing at the Milo Foundation, a sanctuary for homeless pets and adoption center at 220 S Garrard Blvd. Nico was both a volunteer at Milo and a devoted dog owner.
The remembrance was spearheaded by Dave Schoenthal, president of the Point Richmond Business Association, in partnership with Diego Garcia, a community advocate and owner of Leftside Printing, a Richmond small business. Schoenthal called the memorial a “beautiful, loving way” to celebrate community bonds that led to this memorial.
“This is the life of one of our kids in Richmond,” said Garcia.
Nico was one of Garcia’s students when he was director of the after-school program at Cesar Chavez Elementary.
Josie gushed with gratitude for the kindness of community members like Schoenthal and Garcia.
“Nico had a true heart for all animals, especially dogs,” she said. “One of his dogs, Spike, stopped eating and passed a few weeks after his murder.”
With a memorial, Nico’s “legacy of unity, peace and genuine heart will forever be cherished,” Josie said. “It still feels like yesterday for me. This indescribable and beyond painful void in my heart will never go away. But I will always be proud of the young man that I raised to be an all around good and honorable loving kid who is sincerely missed.”