Described as a good Samaritan, Javier Sanmiguel Yanez rushed out of his Saint Paul home late Monday night after hearing a car crash outside. As he opened a door on a car involved in accident, police say the man inside opened fire. Sanmiquel Yanez was fatally shot in the head.
He was a 31-year-old married father of four children. His killing was the 18th homicide in the city his year, police said.
Lionel Eaton, 27, has been charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of third-degree murder.
Saint Paul Police said “a good Samaritan was shot while trying to help a driver who crashed” in a residential neighborhood Monday night at around 10 p.m.
Police said officers responded to a report of a multiple-vehicle crash but while on the way, were told by dispatch that shots had been fired. When police got there, they found four vehicles that had been involved in the crash, an uninjured woman whose vehicle had been rear ended, a good Samaritan suffering gunshot wounds and the suspect, who was driving another vehicle involved in the crash.
Saint Paul Fire paramedics sadly did not transport Javier Sanmiguel Yanez to the hospital; he was pronounced dead at the scene. Right outside his house.
Police said that according to witnesses, Eaton was driving southbound down a street when he rear-ended the car with a woman at the wheel, and that collision led to her car crossing into the northbound lane and crashing into a a parked car with no one inside. Eaton kept going and hit another parked car. That’s when Sanmiguel Yanez arrived to help and, police said, Eaton fired at him and killed him.
Neighbors told reporters that Eaton was in the back of a hatchback car. They reported they thought he might have been injured and so they opened the car’s hatch. Police said Eaton began shooting from inside the car at Sanmiguel Yanez.
Saint Paul Police Sgt. Mike Ernster told local media, “This guy did exactly what I would want him to do, if I was injured in an accident. I’d want him to come to my aid, and he did exactly that. It’s extremely sad that he paid for (it with) his life.”
Javier Sanmiguel Yanez was a beloved man if the comments on social media are a testament. Words from friends and family, a pastor and teacher, co-workers and acquaintances.
Here’s what you need to know:
A ‘Wonderful Man’ Whose Life Was Taken by Senseless Violence, & Friends Family Say
Sanmiguel Yanez, who went by the nickname Javi, worked for Language Banc, a interpreting, translation and interpreter training services company in Minneapolis. A rep for the company wrote, “Javier was a wonderful person and a great employee for our company. We will miss him greatly.”
He was married to Kayla (née Kowitz) Sanmiquel. The couple have four children, the eldest is 6. Kayla’s cousin posted to Facebook Tuesday that the family is suffering the loss of a “wonderful man.”
“Last night this wonderful man by the name of Javier was killed by gun in St. Paul, MN trying to help. My beautiful cousin Kayla Sanmiguel is clearly dumbfounded by this act as she and her four children will never see this man again. Please hold her up in your hearts, if you pray – then pray. So senseless, so horrific, just the worst. A tragedy.”
Tributes & Prayers Poured in For ‘Good Samaritan’ Sanmiguel Yanez
A woman who knew the family indirectly said it nonetheless hit very close to home.
“This story hits hard. Kayla, the wife, was a former co-worker of my husband, a lovely person. I was excited as their first child joined the school where our kids attend. Words can not suffice for their loss. Please pray for consolation and healing for this beautiful, faith-filled family left behind.”
His son, named for his father, Javier, attends Saint Agnes School. The director of admissions at the school said of Sanmiguel Yanez, “Javier and his family are good friends of ours. Javier will always be an excellent example of someone who would do anything for anyone. Tragically his life was cut short two days ago. Even to the last act he was a was and will be known as the Good Samaritan.”
The degrees of separation matter not in the case of Sanmiquel Yanez. The Pius XII Newman Center in South Dakota, where Kayla Sanmiquel’s brother attends, took to Facebook to offer prayers.
“Please pray for the brother-in-law of student Rob Kowitz, Javier Sanmiguel Yanez, who was tragically killed on Monday night. Javier leaves behind his widow, Kayla (Rob’s sister), and four children. Javier was acting as a good Samaritan when he was killed. Eternal rest grant unto Him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.”
Family Members Shared Remembrances & Asked For Prayers
Faith Kowitz, sister of Kayla Sanmiquel, a 2004 graduate of Fergus Falls High School, posted to Facebook, too.
“Yesterday my brother-in-law was shot and killed outside his home when trying to help someone. He is a father of 4 and the oldest is 6. Please send up some prayers and if you are able please help us in financially supporting them through this time.”
The family had also recently lost a parent in a traffic accident, according to a family Facebook post.
A GoFundMe Was Created to Help his Wife & 4 Children & the Comments Shared by Many Who Donated Describe a Beloved Man & a Hero
Organized by Zita Larson, a GoFundMe campaign had as its goal $50,000 but it has exceeded that in the day its been underway. Friends, colleagues and strangers moved by the story have donated.
“On 9/9/2019, Javier Sanmiguel was shot as he was running out to help those in a car accident outside of his home, leaving behind his loving wife, Kayla, and four beautiful children, Javier, Emilia, Isabel and Petra. Any amount of prayer and/or monetary donation is helpful beyond explanation. Javier was a loving, upstanding and faithful man for his God, family, and community. Your donations mean more than can be said in words.”
A donation of $500 was made by a man named Sam Steadman who wrote a touching tribute to Sanmiquel.
“Kayla & Kiddos. My wife & I have been praying for you daily. My heart breaks for your loss and I cannot imagine everything that has occurred in the last 48 hours. Your family & especially Javier have been so good to me. You’ve loved me like your own family & Javier would text all the time. I’ll never forget the time we spent together & I pray that Jesus gives you a peace that transcends all understanding and the gift of strength in this season because He is Strong! Javier is an amazing man & I am excited to see him again knowing He had a personal relationship with Jesus and strong faith! Love you guys. Praying!”
Jenny Andrews wrote on GoFundMe, “Those babies may not remember their father, but they will never forget the hero he was.”