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Mourners say goodbye to two brothers gunned down on Thanksgiving

RUSKIN — As a pair of hearses pulled away after the funeral Wednesday, vibrantly customized lowriders swung in to the procession to escort two brothers taken too violently and too suddenly to their graves.

The Guitron brothers loved cars, friends said. They were good men. They took care of their mother.

At the wheel of Juan Guitron's bright red Monte Carlo lowrider, Gilbert Guevara fought tears.

"Juan was my best friend," he said. "He was like family."

More than 300 mourners, including members of the Somos Buenos local car club, gathered at St. Anne's Catholic Church to honor Juan and Sergio Guitron.

The brothers were gunned down early Thanksgiving when an assailant opened fire on them and four others as they sat on a porch on Ocean Mist Court in Ruskin.

The killer has not been identified and is still on the loose.

"It is an extreme priority with the Sheriff's Office. We have our entire crime investigation unit working on it, which is in excess of 10 detectives," said sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter. "The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and forensics are working on it. We are in constant contact with the State Attorney's Office and we have multiple leads we are following up on."

The other men survived the attack but were critically injured and remain hospitalized.

Pazquala Quezada lost her only children. Juan was 28 years old. Sergio was 22.

"My heart is destroyed," she said after the shooting. "I only had my two sons. I gave everything for them, and they gave everything for me."

At the funeral Mass on Wednesday, she collapsed onto each coffin and wept.

All around, people were overcome by emotion. Some looked away or at the floor.

Others reached out to console her.

Lighted Christmas trees stood on both sides of the church. The choir sang hymns. People took communion and knelt in prayer.

"Death is an ending that marks a true a beginning," Monsignor Diego Conesa told them. "Faith promises us we never have to make that last step alone."

The family did not mourn alone.

At a viewing Tuesday night, mourners were lined up from the front of the sanctuary to the church parking lot. They waited patiently to pay respects and embraced one another with love, Conesa said. At least 500 people visited.

At the funeral Mass, every pew was filled.

Many wore T-shirts displaying a photo of the Guitrons. One group of men wore football jerseys because the brothers loved the game.

Jorge Velazquez came to support the family. He was Sergio's preschool teacher and worked with their mother.

"Sergio was a smart child," Velazquez said, his voice rattled with emotion. "He was a good boy and a good son. No one would ever expect something like this to happen. I want to know why."

There are few answers.

Witnesses say the gunman drove a green minivan. He had bushy hair and wore a T-shirt with the words "Sheriff" on the front and "Security" on the back. He asked for someone by name, but that person wasn't there. Hearing that, he pulled out a .45-caliber pistol and opened fire.

Friend Leo Michelena is still in shock. Driving one of the lowriders in the funeral procession to the Ruskin Memorial Park cemetery, he looked ahead at the hearses carrying the remains of his friends. He bowed his head.

Friends like the Guitrons can't be replaced, he said.

"They were always there for anybody who needed anything."

Times staff writer Ileana Morales contributed to this report. Sarah Whitman can be reached at (813) 661-2493 or swhitman@sptimes.com.

Mourners say goodbye to two brothers gunned down on Thanksgiving 12/02/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 2, 2010 12:04am]

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