Justice for Kevin Torres, father and soccer coach killed by security guard

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Justice for Kevin march will be taking place at 6:30pm EST on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 4020 E. Lombard Street in Baltimore, Maryland, not on Thursday, Dec. 8. 

Kevin Torres was beloved by his family and his community. After emigrating from Honduras decades ago, Torres built a life in Baltimore, where he and his wife ran a concrete and construction company, along with raising their family. In his spare time, Torres coached the Villanueva adult Soccer Team. On the night of Nov. 6, Kevin was out with family and friends at ChrisT Bar in Highlandtown celebrating his team’s victory in their league championship. But the festive atmosphere took a quick turn after a dispute over a missing cellphone resulted in an altercation involving the bar’s security guard. Kevin tried to intervene when the security guard began to argue with his stepdaughter. Moments later, Kevin was dead. As The Baltimore Sun reported, “The security guard told Baltimore Police he discharged his gun early Monday morning because Torres threw a brick at him. But three witnesses disputed that account… The security guard has not been arrested and officials declined to release his name.” 

What really happened on the night Kevin Torres was killed at ChrisT bar? Why do these shootings at the hands of private security guards keep happening? And what can be done to secure justice for Kevin and his family? In this exclusive interview, TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez sits down with Sor Torres, Kevin’s wife, Erick Vicenty, Kevin’s stepson, and Kevin Medina, a close friend of the family.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help Kevin’s family pay for funeral costs, and the family and their supporters are planning a march to demand justice for Kevin on Wed, Dec. 7, at 6:30pm EST. The march will begin at 4020 E. Lombard Street in Baltimore, Maryland, and all supporters are invited to attend.

A flyer (with text in Spanish) including information about the Justice for Kevin march that will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, at 6:30pm EST. The march will begin at 4020 E. Lombard Street in Baltimore, Maryland, and all supporters are invited to attend.

Studio: Adam Coley, Cameron Granadino
Post-Production: Cameron Granadino


TRANSCRIPT

Maximillian Alvarez:  Welcome, everyone, to The Real News Network. My name is Maximillian Alvarez. I’m the editor-in-chief here at The Real News, and it’s so great to have you all with us.

The Real News is an independent, viewer-supported, nonprofit media network. We don’t take corporate cash and we don’t do ads, which means we need every one of you to become a supporter of our work so we can keep bringing you coverage of the voices and issues that you care about most. So please head on over to therealnews.com/support and become a donor today.

Kevin Torres was beloved by his family and his community. After emigrating from Honduras decades ago, Torres built a life here in Baltimore. Until recently, he and his wife ran a concrete and construction company along with raising a family. And in his spare time, Torres coached the Villanueva Adult Soccer Team here in the city. In fact, Kevin was out with players, friends, and family late into the night on Sunday, Nov. 6 to celebrate the team winning their league championship.Then, in the blink of an eye, their lives were changed forever.

As Leah Skeen, Darcy Costello, and Cassidy Jensen reported last month for The Baltimore Sun, “Kevin Torres was celebrating Sunday night after his soccer team finally claimed their league championship title. Surrounded by teammates and family, Torres spent hours at ChrisT bar in Highlandtown. The mood was jovial until a dispute over a missing cell phone prompted a security guard to intervene.

“Torres got involved after seeing the officer arguing with his stepdaughter, according to witnesses. Moments later, Torres was dead. The security guard told Baltimore Police he discharged his gun early Monday morning because Torres threw a brick at him. But three witnesses disputed that account in interviews with The Baltimore Sun.

“‘They killed my husband like an animal,’ said Sor Torres, who helped organize a protest Tuesday night in Highlandtown that drew about 100 people. ‘Enough is enough.’

“The security guard has not been arrested, and officials declined to release his name. Police spokesman Detective Donny Moses said he believes the guard was working independently for the bar and was not an off-duty police officer.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help Kevin’s family pay for funeral costs, and we’ve linked to that GoFundMe in the description of this video. The family and their supporters are planning a march to demand justice for Kevin this Thursday, Dec. 8 at 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. The march will begin at 4020 East Lombard Street in Baltimore, and all supporters are invited to attend.

So what exactly happened on the night that Kevin Torres was killed at ChrisT bar? And why do these killings at the hands of private security guards keep happening not only in Baltimore, but around the country? And what can be done to secure justice for Kevin Torres and his family?

To talk about all of this, I had the chance to sit down with some of Kevin’s loved ones, including Sor Torres, Kevin’s wife; Erick Vicenty, Kevin’s stepson; and Kevin Medina, a close friend of the family. Here’s our interview, recorded last week in The Real News studio.

I do want to warn viewers that this is, understandably, a very emotional interview. But I hope that people watch it, and I hope that you can help us make sure that Kevin’s family’s story is known far and wide.

Sor Torres:  Good afternoon, I’m Sor Torres, Kevin Torres’s wife.

Erick Vicenty:  Good afternoon. My name’s Erick Vicenty. I’m Kevin Torres’s stepson.

Kevin Medina:  I’m Kevin. I’m Kevin Torres’s friend.

Maximillian Alvarez:  Well, Kevin, Erick, Sor, thank you so much for coming down and sitting with us today. [Spanish] I wanted to say I’m incredibly sorry for your loss, and incredibly grateful to you all for sitting down and sharing your story with us today.

Sor Torres:  Yes.

Maximillian Alvarez:  Do you want to translate or…?

Erick Vicenty:  Thank you.

Maximillian Alvarez:  Now, there’s been a little bit of coverage of Kevin’s death in the local media, but it feels like a lot of details still aren’t very clear for the public. I wanted to ask if you all would be willing to talk our viewers and listeners through what happened earlier this month on that fateful night when Kevin was killed.

Sor Torres:  [interpreted Spanish] Early Sunday morning we went ahead, we started prepping ourselves to get ready to go to our finals at the Hispanic Soccer League for Baltimore. Our team is currently… Well, was currently within the leagues. It’s called Villanueva. We played the tournament, and towards the end of the tournament we ended up champions of the 2022 Hispanic League in Baltimore.

After the game was over and we finished celebrating on the field and gathering our things, we went ahead to ChrisT bar to continue to celebrate our victory. Throughout the night, we went ahead and we were there with family, friends, and a lot of the team members were also there to celebrate the victory with us. And everything was calm.

I went into the bathroom. While I was in the restroom, two girls approached me and asked if I had seen a phone that was on top of the bathroom counter. I explained to them that I had not seen the cell phone, that I had just walked into the restroom. And I proceeded to use the restroom. While I was using the restroom, I overheard them talking about what they were going to do. One of them told the other that I was going to call you to see if you can find your phone. Go out of the bathroom, and to see if you can find it.

Once she dialed the phone and the other girl walked out of the restroom, the girl called the phone. I heard it while I was using the restroom, and told her that that was the phone that they were calling. And so I told her that I was going to go give it to the girl.

She went further to say that I wanted to steal the phone, that I didn’t want to turn it in to the other girl. So I was like, okay, you can give it to her. But I’m going to go and get the girl, so that you can give it to her in front of me. Because it was the same girl that was spending time with [Erick’s] uncle throughout the night.

I went out to go get the girl. And once we went back towards the bathroom, the other girl that was waiting for her in the bathroom wasn’t there anymore. So once the girl had asked me who this person was, what they looked like, and she explained to her that it was the same girl that she went into the bathroom with. So she went over to the girl, and they started arguing over the phone. One of the DJs at ChrisT bar started talking drama over the mic, that someone was trying to steal a phone, this, that, and the third. That’s when things started to get a little tense in the area.

That’s when the security guards and the owner of ChrisT bar started coming onto the floor. And so this started the altercations. Once everybody was on the dance floor, the girl that took the phone, that had the phone on her, started arguing with my husband.

My daughter walked up to my husband and told the girl that was arguing with my husband that she didn’t need to be talking to him that way and that she needed to back off. At that moment, the security guard came and grabbed my daughter by the arm.

My daughter shoved his arms away and told him, you do not need to be grabbing me like that. The security guard grabbed her by her hair and her hand and tried to force her out of the building. That’s when my husband interfered and told him that he didn’t have to be grabbing her like that.

At this moment, another girl approached the area and hit my daughter while the security guard was holding her. That’s when things went south real fast. I got upset, I went over to where my daughter was, I pushed the girl off of my daughter and I told her that she didn’t need to be putting her hands on my daughter like that. The girl hit me as well. That’s when the owner of the bar approached us and started breaking up the situation, and told us that this needs to be done and over with.

After they were separated, the lady continued to argue and talk about how my daughter was trying to steal a chain, which was mine, she just ripped it off of my neck, and said that my daughter was trying to keep it for herself and steal it. So in order to avoid any more problems, I told my daughter that it’s okay to let her keep the chain. My daughter threw it at her so that she could take it. That’s when people started to separate them even further. That’s when the owner of the bar, Chris, told us that we’re going to escort all of you out so that there won’t be any more problems. That way we can avoid this from escalating any further.

So they were escorted to the back door. While they were over towards the back door, I was talking with the owner of the bar, and telling him that I will be right back. I was going to the VIP area of the ChrisT bar to make sure that we didn’t forget any of our stuff, that I’ll be right back out. So Chris told me that he’ll escort me over there. That way, there won’t be any more issues.

Me and Chris walked over to the VIP area. They were looking for their stuff, but realized that none of their stuff was there anymore. That the area was picked up and cleaned already.

We walked out towards the back door again. It was just me and my daughter at the back door with the bar owner. I was telling him that stuff like that shouldn’t go down. We had already spent over $2,000 over here celebrating our victory with you.

Erick Vicenty:  And that was when she heard the first gunshot go off.

Sor Torres:  [interpreted Spanish] That’s when the first shot went off. And I looked to my right to see my husband over by the door by the main entrance to ChrisT bar. I looked to my left and saw that my daughter was over at my left. That’s when I heard the second shot go off.

The owner of the bar, Chris, he asked, where are the shots coming from? And closed the door and locked everybody outside of the building. I looked over towards my husband and saw that he had his hands in the air. I saw him get on his knees. After that, we heard the rest of the shots.

I heard my sister say, Sor, they killed him. And I looked over at my husband, and saw that he started walking towards me. I heard the last shot as he was coming towards me. He walked towards me, and he fell on the ground. I held him by the neck to make sure that he wouldn’t bleed out. And I begged him not to leave me. As he started to slowly close his eyes. He told me no, that he wasn’t going to leave. He closed his eyes. And after that, all I heard was people screaming and panicking around me. I stayed there with him until the police pulled me off of him.

They took them all to the hospital. While I was in the hospital room, they went ahead and they sedated me. From 2:00 until 9:00 in the morning, I was sedated.

At 9:00, when I awakened from my sedation, a doctor approached me. She asked me if I remembered the reason as to why I was in the hospital, and if I was for certain that I could fully understand what was happening.

I said yes, that I knew why I was here. The doctor asked her if I came here with a man, and what was my relation to him? I told the doctor that yes, that’s my husband. The doctor asked me for his name and his date of birth. I told him his name was Kevin Torres and gave him his date of birth. The doctor told me that he had passed away, and that on the way to the hospital, they tried to resuscitate him multiple times with no success. The doctor told me that I had family members waiting outside for me. I said, yes, my son should be out there.

Erick Vicenty:  Once I came into the room, my mom was crying. So I told her that everything was going to be okay. The doctors had told us that he just made it out of surgery and he was recovering. They were waiting for the alcohol in his system to go down, to see how much of an effect everything had on him.

Sor Torres:  [interpreted Spanish] I told my son that he hadn’t made it, that he died, that the doctor just confirmed it with me.

Erick Vicenty:  And that if I wanted, I could go confirm it with her myself. I went to confirm it with the doctor, and she had told us that he had passed away: even though everyone else that we had asked about him, told us that he was just fine, that he had just made it out of surgery.

Sor Torres:  [interpreted Spanish] Once I received my discharge forms and I was able to leave my hospital bed, I went ahead and I asked for the supervisor that was currently on shift, and asked them why they had my family and friends outside waiting for an update on my husband when he had died on the way to the hospital. And the supervisor said that the cops told them to say that he was alive and he was recovering in surgery.

Maximillian Alvarez:  I truly can’t express how sorry I am to all of you that you went through that. You were there to celebrate a soccer game, soccer victory with friends and family. And a dumb argument turned into a life-altering tragedy. I can’t imagine it. I’m so, so sorry.

I wanted to ask Erick, Kevin, if you had anything you wanted to add to Sor’s account? Anything else you want viewers and listeners to know about that night?

Erick Vicenty:  I had gone home prior to everything happening because I live in Aberdeen and I didn’t want to make the ride back up there once it was real late at night. So I was in bed asleep with my wife when I get a call at two in the morning from my younger sister telling me that my stepfather got shot.

I raced to get to put some clothes on and I raced out the door. I drove from Aberdeen to the hospital that they had my stepfather in during the incident. I get there around 2:30 in the morning. And as I get there, I see all our friends and our family members are outside of the hospital. I asked them, what had happened? What was going on? Did we find anything out?

They tell me that the doctor said that he’s recovering from surgery. That they’re waiting for the alcohol in his system to go down to see how much he was affected by the bullet wounds. So we stayed waiting. And every 30 minutes to an hour, we’d ask how they were going, what they were doing, and if they had any information for us.

Throughout the entire time that we were outside waiting, they just kept on telling us, your stepfather’s okay. He’s just made it out of surgery. He’s recovering. We’re waiting for him to wake up. Then they said that they had no information that they could give me on my mother. So I stayed waiting over seven hours for an update.

Family and friends started to leave, asking for updates once we found something out. It was getting real late, they had been up all night and since the previous day as well, considering that, from the soccer tournament, most of us went straight over there to celebrate the victory. So a lot of our friends, they hadn’t gotten any rest, just waiting on some type of news for him.

So 9:30 in the morning came. That’s when the nurse tells me that my mother’s awake, that I can go see her. That’s when I enter the room. My mom tells me that he’s dead. And I’m over here denying it, because according to what the staff prior to her had told me that he was alive, that they were just waiting for him to recover. So I’m relaying the same information to my mother that they gave me. So she’s over here telling me, no, he’s dead. The doctor just told me that he passed away on the way over here from the club, when he was in the ambulance.

So I go out to get my mom a cup of water. I give her the cup of water, and I go back out to ask the doctor if it was true, if my stepfather had really passed away. And the doctor confirmed it with me that he had indeed passed away.

Kevin Medina:  All I want to talk about is the hospital report. We had to find out not by nobody. We had to find out by Facebook, the police report. That’s how we had to find out. That’s what was shocking, because they didn’t want to tell. I was with her daughter at the time.

That was my best friend. We were together, we were on everybody. We were texting everybody. We were trying to figure out, what’s going on. Is he okay? How’s he doing? Everybody’s telling us that he’s okay, that the doctors are saying that he’s in surgery, that he’s completely fine, that he’s in surgery. He’s recovering right now. That’s what they’re telling everybody. Everybody’s in the parking lot waiting, still trying to figure out if he’s really okay.

Then we have to find out by the police report around 9:30, her daughter finds out through Facebook, because she was on it. She wanted to know what was wrong with her stepfather. She wanted to know what was wrong with her stepfather. So she’s scrolling on Facebook, and she starts busting out crying. She starts screaming. We go into the room. She’s crazy. She faints. She literally faints. She’s with two of his best friends, me and… I’m just in even more shock because what had just happened, and then she faints on me.

I’m just like, what’s wrong? What’s wrong? What did you just see? She throws the phone at me, and I start reading. And that’s when it says that he had died before he had even got to the hospital. And that to me was just shocking. And just was like, why would they lie to us? Why would they lie to the family? Why would they do… Just why? You feel me?

We were already hurt because he was shot. That just hurt us even more, because you’re giving us high hopes that he’s okay, that he made it. And to find out he didn’t is just, it’s effed up.

Maximillian Alvarez:  It’s beyond effed up. I’m trying to contain myself, because I can’t imagine the cruelty of doing something like that, of keeping an entire family waiting all night, hoping that Kevin would be okay, when they knew that he had passed away on the ride over to the hospital. Just to confirm, you said that the staff at the hospital said that this is what the police told them to say?

I know that in local media reports, again, there’s very little information. But everything that I’ve seen, they keep repeating what the security guard said, that Kevin threatened him with a brick and that justified shooting. I’ve seen reports that there were six shots fired at close range, killing Kevin.

Again, I want to thank you all for talking us through this. I know it’s incredibly hard. I wanted to ask, what’s being done about this? What’s being done about what the hospital did to you? What the security guard did? The club? I know there was a demonstration recently, a Latino Lives Matter demonstration. So for people watching and listening in and around Baltimore, what’s happening? And what can people do to support you all?

Sor Torres:  [interpreted Spanish] Throughout the last three weeks, we’ve been getting constant calls from lawyers and jurors saying that there’s still a lot of evidence they have to go through. And as far as we know, nothing’s really being done about it.

Kevin Medina:  When we went to go testify, they even told us that they didn’t have enough evidence to give a warrant out for his arrest, the security guard.

Maximillian Alvarez:  The security guard.

Kevin Medina:  The security guard. So they clarified that what had happened, even what happened was not enough evidence to arrest him. Yeah.

Maximillian Alvarez:  So multiple eyewitnesses is not enough evidence?

Sor Torres:  [interpreted Spanish] ChrisT bar has security cameras within the building, and also on the outside of the building. So the camera footage from inside of the bar, they didn’t want to turn in. The security cameras that are directly in front of where the incident happened, they’re claiming that those security cameras don’t work.

Erick Vicenty:  There’s an automotive shop across the street from the bar. They were willing to turn in the security footage that they have from a camera that’s pointing directly at where the incident occurred. The footage was sent to us by an anonymous source.

My mother hasn’t had the courage to look at the video, but I re-watched the video several times over and over again. In the footage, you can see that my stepfather didn’t even have a chance to get anywhere near the security guard before… Everything just escalated so fast. And within the security footage, you see the incident that occurred outside, from start to finish.

It’s incredible that the cops are saying that there isn’t enough footage or evidence to go off of when, in the security footage from the automotive shop, you could clearly see what happened from the moment my stepfather got maced to the moment he got shot.

Maximillian Alvarez:  I’ve kept you all long enough, and I don’t want to cause any more pain. Again, I really appreciate y’all coming down and talking to us about this.

By way of ending, I wanted to ask, A, if there are things that people can do to support you all, to support the family, to seek justice for what happened to Kevin? And if you had any final thoughts that you wanted to share with people about how you want Kevin to be remembered, what you want people to know about him?

Sor Torres:  [interpreted Spanish] On Dec. 8 we’re having a march with a group called Wednesday. They’ve done a lot of police brutality marches in the past. And so we’ll be meeting right in front of ChrisT bar where the incident happened, at 4020 East Lombard Street. We’ll be meeting there on the 8th at 6:00 PM. And if people would like to come out, just give some support.

Erick Vicenty:  We’re also collecting signatures so that we can have the bar shut down, because this isn’t the first incident that’s gone down in this bar which has caused either someone to lose their life or get severely injured by one of the security guards there.

Sor Torres:  The same one.

Erick Vicenty:  So we’re asking people, you don’t have to march with us. You can go ahead, just show up, show some support, sign the petition, and we’d really appreciate that.

The most I can say for my stepfather to be remembered was that he was a hard worker. He worked from Sunday to Saturday, from morning till night. He had opened up his own business with the help of my mother not too long ago. They’re going on three years that it’s been open now. It’s a local concrete business. He’s brought it up from the ground up. I’ve been working with him there now for a year. And it’s been awesome seeing how the company has grown, how it’s gotten bigger.

He was funny, he was goofy. He liked to go out, have fun with his friends. He really got into this whole soccer team management deal. He loved his soccer players. Most of them aren’t even older than 25. And so he’s helped out a lot of them as well. Whenever they need any type of help, he’s always there to give them support, even when he barely has any to give for himself.

His family, he supports them tremendously. And he was a great person. He was kind. We had some of the companies that we’re associated with go out to the marches that we’ve had before and talk to us, telling us how much they’re going to miss him, what a great guy he was.

And as far as I know, my stepfather’s going to be remembered for a very long time. He was beloved by the Hispanic community, along with those that have interacted with him in the past.

Sor Torres:  [interpreted Spanish] I would like everyone to remember my husband as the man he was: kind, a loving husband, caring. He took care of his families both here in the US and over in Honduras. I would like him to be remembered as the kind soul that he was, the helpful person that he was, the caring person that he was. He’d always help those around him.

And the most that I would like is for there to be justice for my husband, and for there to be something actually done about this. That his death won’t be just something that they try to sweep under the carpet.

Kevin Medina:  Well, I want to say I had just met him that night. But I could tell, because her daughter’s my best friend. I had heard his voice and seen him through FaceTime a lot. Anytime she needed help with anything, even though she would probably be the tough one, he’d probably be the more lenient one. And he would be like, okay, I got you. He was always there for her.

And I could tell he was a great man. The day that I met him, he shook my hand. I came back into the bar. He asked me if I was fine, if I was good. I told him I was all right. Boom. I could just tell he was a father, he was a son. He was a great man.

And just by looking at him and meeting him that night, I just wish I would’ve had more time to interact with him. Because by hearing and by seeing, he was a great man. And all we want is justice for an innocent man that didn’t deserve to die like that

Maximillian Alvarez:  Well, Sor, Erick, Kevin, thank you so much for coming in and talking to us and sharing your story and Kevin’s story. We really appreciate it, and our hearts are really with you all. And for everyone watching, please do what you can to support the Torres family. We will post links to the events mentioned before that are happening in December.

This is Maximillian Alvarez for The Real News Network. Before you go, please head on over to therealnews.com/support. Become a monthly sustainer of our work so we can keep bringing you important coverage and conversations just like this. Please take care of each other. Take care of yourselves. Thank you so much for watching.

Maximillian Alvarez

Editor-in-Chief

Ten years ago, I was working 12-hour days as a warehouse temp in Southern California while my family, like millions of others, struggled to stay afloat in the wake of the Great Recession. Eventually, we lost everything, including the house I grew up in. It was in the years that followed, when hope seemed irrevocably lost and help from above seemed impossibly absent, that I realized the life-saving importance of everyday workers coming together, sharing our stories, showing our scars, and reminding one another that we are not alone. Since then, from starting the podcast Working People—where I interview workers about their lives, jobs, dreams, and struggles—to working as Associate Editor at the Chronicle Review and now as Editor-in-Chief at The Real News Network, I have dedicated my life to lifting up the voices and honoring the humanity of our fellow workers.
 
Email: max@therealnews.com
 
Follow: @maximillian_alv