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Victim in random Las Vegas apartment killing was ‘most beloved guy’ of company

Updated March 28, 2024 - 7:08 pm

Raul Cardoza, killed in an apparent random shooting Tuesday, worked for the same cleaning company for a quarter century after emigrating from El Salvador and became the “most beloved guy” among the firm’s longtime customers.

Steve Pieri, Cardoza’s boss for the carpet cleaning company, said Wednesday he had been receiving phone calls from presidents and chief executives who knew Cardoza over the years, expressing their sorrow and describing him as “very hardworking, outgoing, just a very good man.”

“I know everyone says nice things about someone who is dead,” said Pieri, 54, owner of Immaculate Restoration and Carpet Care in Las Vegas. “He was an integral part of our team. He didn’t go out and get customers, but he retained them. He was our most beloved guy.”

Cardoza leaves behind daughters aged 18 and 20, steady commercial and residential customers who personally knew him for years, and Pieri, who said he regarded him, an employee for 25 years, “like a family member.”

At about 4 p.m., the 41-year-old victim was inside a white company van, ready to check the carpet in a unit at the Venicia Apartments in the 3600 block of Fort Apache Road, when a suspect fired a handgun at him, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

The suspect, later identified as Kayla Alery, 27, then fled through the entrance to the complex, but soon was located and arrested in a nearby neighborhood by patrol officers. Cardoza was later pronounced dead at University Medical Center.

Residents had reported seeing a person who did not live there and was trying to open car doors, apparently to burglarize them, but started to leave once maintenance workers pursued her, police said.

“Our suspect then quickly approaches the white van, removes a handgun and shoots our victim, who’s the driver of the white van, while he’s sitting in the van,” police Lt. Jason Johansson said.

There was no indication that Cardoza and Alery had any interaction prior to the shooting, which appeared to be “completely random,” Johansson said.

Alery, a convicted arsonist, faces charges of open murder, assault with a deadly weapon, being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a gun into an occupied structure or vehicle.

She is next due in court on Tuesday.

“He never knew what happened,” Pieri said. “It was just one of those bad stories. He had no chance at all. It was a completely random act.”

One of his company’s oldest clients is Ovation Development, the owner and manager of the Venicia complex, for which the company cleans, repairs and restores carpets when renters move out, Pieri said.

Cardoza came to the U.S. about 25 years ago from El Salvador with his two brothers. His story was a classic one of an immigrant who made good through hard work, Pieri said.

“He learned English,” he said. “There are a lot of guys who didn’t do the right thing. He did the right thing.”

Cardoza was eager to help with free cleaning jobs by the company during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as for fire engines and paramedic vehicles, Pieri said.

“He was the epitome of loyal,” he said. “He showed up every day. You couldn’t ask for any more from a guy.”

Members of Cardoza’s family created a GoFundMe page, including a photo of him, to raise funds for his funeral expenses.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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