Kansas City, Mo. Mauro Brito Pacheco began work as a barber when he was only 12, helping out in his family’s shop in Honduras and eventually using his skills to build a life in the U.S.
He followed his sister to Texas after their mother died, although he was jailed when border agents mistook his life savings for drug money. Friends said a U.S. senator helped in his release, and he went on to earn a GED, become an American citizen and start a family — and happily lived in Kansas City.
Then last week, as he tried to ward off three men trying to rob Tina’s Hair Salon as he worked, the 38-year-old husband and father was fatally shot in the abdomen during a struggle when he refused to open a safe. He was able to call his wife and sister before he died in surgery.
The robbers got away with $20, and police have made no arrests, it was reported Saturday.
His sister, Arlin Garcia, said her brother was wide-eyed when he came to the U.S. and excitedly surprised by even the most basic experiences.
“He was so happy when I sent him to the store,” said Garcia, who also lives in Kansas City. “He’d pick up grapes and say, ‘Oh my God, look at this. We don’t have grapes in Honduras. We don’t have apples over there.’”
Friends said Pacheco, whose children are 2 and 7, had a good nature and enjoyed his work and customers.
“Mauro was very cheerful. All of his buddies would agree with me,” salon worker Lupe Mena said.
Another worker and customer were in the shop during the shooting Monday evening and tried to help, Mena said. No one else was injured.
“He thought he could control the situation,” Mena said, speaking in Spanish. “It hurts us to know that we will have to continue without him, arrive at work and know that he is not coming back.”
A message left for Kansas City police by The Associated Press seeking updates on the case wasn’t immediately returned Saturday.