Man accused of killing Parlier Football Coach over trash dispute

Artie Gomez coached football in Parlier and touched the lives of hundreds of young athletes over the last 20 years.
March 12, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Artie Gomez coached football in Parlier and touched the lives of hundreds of young athletes over the last 20 years. Now, those athletes and his alma mater are rallying to lift up his family in their time of grieving.

Family and friends of Gomez crowded the halls of the Fresno County courthouse wearing black and red ribbons as a tribute to Gomez.

The man accused of shooting him is Joel Varela, an undocumented immigrant with a history of crimes in the Valley.

Action News checked Tulare County court records and found in the late 90s, he was convicted of auto theft, statutory rape, domestic violence and several misdemeanors.

After serving a prison sentence, he was deported, only to pop his head up recently in Parlier. The man he allegedly killed left a very different kind of imprint.

Parlier High School Principal Edward Lucero said, "Artie would be a perfect example of one of those folks that just gave back endless hours and time, coaching and mentoring young people."

Lucero has opened his campus to help out the Gomez family. Artie Gomez was a Panther once himself, number 20, and a T-shirt made in his memory tells his story: He volunteered countless hours, was a great coach, and will always be part of the Panther family.

"His sincerity, his love for young people, mentoring them, wanting the best for them -- not only on the football field, but in the classroom," added Lucero.

Parlier High has seen activity on its Facebook page quadruple since it started posting about fundraising events. And orders for those T-shirts are now in the hundreds, even coming in from other states.

Lucero added, "It's very touching to see our community come together and to support this family."

Those T-shirts will be on sale Friday night as the family holds a candlelight vigil at 7pm at the stadium. The public is welcome to attend the vigil.

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Bank of the West account in memory of Artie Gomez
#033430140

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The family of Artie Gomez will be holding a donation car wash on Sunday, March 16th at Cedar and Ashlan next to the Dollar Tree store. The car wash will begin at 8 a.m. and last throughout the day.


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