Fallen Hero’s Memorial Stolen

Fallen Hero’s Memorial Stolen

KMIR

Coachella, CA

The gravesite of fallen firefighter Garrett Paiz is usually filled with flowers and topped with a temporary memento made by his father Armando Paiz.

"Every time I go there I talk to him, sometimes he answers sometimes he doesn’t," says Armando.

But on Wednesday when he went to visit his son at the Coachella Valley Cemetery, he found his gravesite bare.

"It was gone, so I wandered around a little bit and mumbled a few words and I said, ‘Garrett where is it?’," says Armando.

Garrett died fighting the wildfires in Northern California on October 16, 2017. The Paiz family can’t believe someone would take from a man who gave his life helping others. 

"For it to be gone it just felt like now another piece of our brother has been taken from us," says Garrett’s sister Cinthia Paiz. 

"It just drives another knife in you know, we’re starting to really heal and then we just get the scab really torn off," says Garrett’s brother Carlos Paiz. 

The family is hurt.

"It’s just torn a family back into shreds," says Cinthia.

And angry.

"Like I say, I can say a few choice words about them," says Armando.

The family says solar lights installed for Garrett and a family member buried next to Garrett were also taken. We did reach out to management of the cemetery, they did not return our call. But employees tell us they are upset and saddened by the theft too. 

The memorial was to stay up until his permanent headstone was put in place on the anniversary of his death. They do find comfort in a horseshoe burned into the grass, a sign they say is from Garrett, a firefighter cowboy at heart. But they felt they had to speak up in hopes the person who took it does the right thing. 

"Eventually we’ll find out who did it but we’re not going to hold no big, old, giant grudge against you if you put it back right away," says Armando.

"Just put it back, just put it back," says Cinthia.