A year has passed since the murder of Ernesto Xe Acosta—but not a single day on which he is forgotten.
A piece of sun broke the gray skies that swallowed San Francisco, illuminating a hill in Alamo Square park where a small circle of people gathered, instruments in hand.
For these people, it was deja vu—Feb. 10, a chilly winter evening, pictures of the handsome man smiling sincerely into the camera, white candles and flowers placed with care on the wet grass—and hearts aching perhaps even more now than they did in the midst of the confusion and disbelief that surrounded Xe’s death at this time last year.
The group of people that attended the first anniversary of Xe’s murder on Monday was smaller than the nearly 200 people that flooded the streets when news of the senseless murder first broke. But the stories that were shared were vivid, alive, and full of love.
Many recalled the moment when they first received news that the well-liked Whole Foods employee had been killed—what they were doing, the last time they heard his voice or saw his blue VW bug cruise through the Haight.
The day that Xe took his last breath was the day that countless lives around him were halted as well.
Xe was shot and killed at 2 a.m. on Feb. 10, 2013, at the intersection of Hayes and Webster streets. It was one fatal shot to the chest that unjustly ended his 23 years on earth. No one knows why he died—the question continues to burn in the hearts of his loved ones, for whom the answers “random” and “unprovoked” are obvious but not sufficient.
Video surveillance footage from a nearby liquor store and a passing taxicab released months after the shooting by investigators show an unidentified gunman in what police believe to be a white Lexus ES 350. Xe is walking on the sidewalk, then veers off his path as the car pulls up, seemingly calling him over. What happens next is painful and unexplainable. Police believe that a gunshot was fired from the car— as Xe is seen stumbling back across the street, before collapsing on the sidewalk at the intersection.
No arrests have been made, and there are no developments in Xe’s case according to his family. Police believe that Xe did not know his killer—he had no known enemies.
Police have said that the gunfire may be related to a brawl that ensued at a birthday party for local music producer LaRon Mayfield at Yoshi’s on Fillmore on the same evening. Witnesses are urged to come forward with any information that could help find the people who took Xe’s life.
At Alamo Square park, the first annual peace gathering in Xe’s honor commenced with the rattling of maracas and steady drum beats and songs in the ancient Mexica language, Nahuatl.
Xe lived day by day, and he was good to those that surrounded him. By the time he died, he had already attained some of his big dreams— owning a VW bus, travelling to Brazil, and learning about his indigenous roots and culture in Mexico. Those left behind cannot help but wonder about the adventures that he would have gotten himself into next.
The void that remains in his absence will never be filled, but the memories of Xe living his blissful life— carefree, surrounded by friends, his laughter and warm hugs—managed to procure smiles and some warmth on that forever cold, dark day.
If you would like to share your thoughts and memories of Xe, visit the “Your Memories of Ernesto Xe Acosta” Facebook page.
Anyone with information on the shooting is encouraged to call police at (415) 575-4444 or by text at TIP411 with “SFPD” at the beginning of the message.