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Man recalls brother’s slaying: ‘An image that I will carry for the rest of my life’

Updated April 7, 2024 - 8:34 pm

The two Cardoza brothers were sitting in their work van — just like on any other workday. Raul Ernesto Cardoza sat in the driver’s seat doing paperwork. Jose Rigoberto Cardoza, who goes by Rigo, was in the passenger seat.

“We’re just sitting in the van, talking,” Rigo Cardoza, 30, recalled Sunday, speaking about those final few moments that the brothers had together before his brother was gunned down randomly, allegedly by a 27-year-old woman who would later tell detectives she suffers from schizophrenia and didn’t remember shooting anybody, police said.

The two brothers, who were working as carpet cleaners for Immaculate Restoration and Carpet Care, were at the Venicia Apartments in the 3600 block of South Fort Apache Road near West Twain Avenue at 4 p.m. on March 26.

The woman, later identified as Kayla Alery, suddenly walked up to the side of the van and fired a shot without saying anything, Rigo Cardoza said Sunday. The two brothers had noticed the woman in the complex as they sat in their work van.

Rigo Cardoza said he didn’t see the shot, but he heard it. He turned to see his 41-year-old brother bleeding from the neck, his head slumped. He said the bullet had passed through his brother’s neck but missed him, otherwise they both could’ve been killed.

“Seeing him die next to me is not easy for a person,” Rigo Cardoza said in Spanish.

He demonstrated how he tried to stop the bleeding from his brother’s neck with his hands. But nothing could be done.

“It’s an image that I will carry for the rest of my life,” he said in Spanish.

As for Alery, who now faces several charges including open murder and who on Thursday was ordered to undergo a competency evaluation, she shouldn’t be in society, Rigo Cardoza said.

“That woman can’t be outside,” he said.

‘Amazing’ support

On Sunday, Rigo Cardoza was joined by several dozen people, including Raul Cardoza’s daughters Ingry Cardoza, 20, and Evelyn Cardoza, 18, in the parking lot of a strip mall on Eastern Avenue just south of Interstate 515 for a fundraising car wash.

There, family and friends pitched in to wash cars while the drivers donated money to help cover the costs associated with Raul Cardoza’s death, including his funeral.

At a similar car wash at Lake Mead Boulevard and Nellis Avenue the Sunday before, the family raised about $5,000, said Ingry Cardoza. She declined to be interviewed on Sunday, saying she was still too distraught.

And a GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $7,200 by Sunday afternoon.

“The support that my brother has, it’s amazing,” Rigo Cardoza said as a steady stream of vehicles passed through Sunday’s car wash.

‘Going to remember my brother as a happy person’

Raul Cardoza’s older brother, Jose Armando Cardoza, 43, said his brother is also survived by two parents and other family members in El Salvador, where the brothers are originally from.

He said he was grateful that his younger brother wasn’t harmed.

“Thank God it wasn’t his turn because if not it would have been both of them, two people at the same time, my two brothers at the same time,” Jose Cardoza said in Spanish.

“But only God knows why He does things and, well, we are going to remember my brother as a happy person … He was always happy with everything.”

Other friends recalled Raul Cardoza as a friendly guy and dependable co-worker.

Octavio Chavez, 53, of Las Vegas, considered him to be like a brother.

“As an employee, a very hard worker. Very hard worker … He was like a beast, like an animal,” Chavez said. “As a human, he was kind, he was friendly.”

“He was a good person,” said Jose Tejeda, 41.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com. Contact Laura Anaya-Morga at lanaya-morga@reviewjournal.com

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