Friends of Marcos Abraham Vargas described the bright, dedicated attorney, killed at a Bakersfield apartment complex early Wednesday, as a "rising star" in the legal profession.
Veteran defense attorney David A. Torres said he had known Vargas, 26, for about a year and a half, but really got to know him on a more personal level when Abraham volunteered his time with the Immigration Justice Collaborative. The group gives presentations throughout Kern regarding the Trump administration's new immigration policies.
"He was bright, personable and an overall warm human being," Torres said Friday. "He had such a magnetic personality that after our IJC meetings the public would flock to speak to him not only because of his knowledge of certain areas of law, but also because of his infectious smile and because he was approachable.
"He was, in my opinion, a rising star."
H.A. Sala, another defense attorney with decades of experience in the county, echoed those sentiments.
Vargas passed the California bar exam in June of last year after attending law school at Loyola Marymount University. Just six months later, Sala said, Vargas "stepped up to the plate" and cofounded the Immigration Justice Collaborative.
He said Vargas shared his knowledge with many people, giving the disenfranchised and those in need of legal counsel as much time as they needed. Sala described him as kind, compassionate, friendly and gregarious.
"I’ve never seen a lawyer that young with essentially just a few months of practicing law dedicating that much time to pro bono work."
One thing that endeared Vargas to the crowds was that he had been a licensed attorney in Mexico before moving to California. He could explain legal issues in Mexico, Sala said, and how they related to issues in the U.S.
City Councilman Andrae Gonzalez posted on Facebook that Vargas worked with Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance Inc., and Stewards Inc., the nonprofit of which Gonzalez is CEO.
"Marcos was a very caring and committed board member, who volunteered much of his personal time to help Stewards further its mission," Gonzalez wrote. "My prayers, and those of Stewards' board and staff, are with Marcos, his family, friends and colleagues."
Stewards Inc. helps people on disability or in retirement manage their incomes.
Police were dispatched at 3:12 a.m. Wednesday to an apartment complex in the 600 block of Hosking Avenue to a report of an unknown situation, according to the Bakersfield Police Department.
They found a man, who friends have identified as Vargas, suffering major injuries. He died at the scene.
Sala said he was contacted by police about six hours after Vargas' death. They knew he had mentored Vargas. Sala said it's his understanding it was a "very violent, very grisly attack."
He's hoping there will be an arrest soon.
"We really have lost a good soul, a good lawyer."
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call Detective James Jones at 326-3555 or the Bakersfield Police Department at 327-7111.