A New York City family traveled to Chile in search of answers and justice for their son, Eric Garvin, who was fatally shot Jan. 14 while vacationing in the capital city of Santiago.
Garvin’s father, Eric D. Garvin, and sister, Naomi Garvin, flew to the South American nation to meet with authorities and view unreleased security video of the shooting.
"What they told us is my son was innocently walking down the street, paused for a moment, took a snapshot of a building in a drug-infested area," Garvin told New York station WABC Jan. 25. "And immediately following that, three gentlemen came across the street, grabbed my son and stole his phone and shot him three times and he died there on the scene."
Violent crime has surged across Chile in recent years. Homicides rose by 40 percent between 2016 and 2021, CNN reported, citing data from Chile’s Department of Crime Prevention. Officials there blame an increase of drug trafficking and drug gangs exploiting historic tension between indigenous communities and authorities for the sudden rise in violence.
"From a father's perspective, this is the darkest day in my life and my wife's life," said Garvin’s father, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.
The 38-year-old victim was a lawyer from New York’s Staten Island borough who wanted to use his advocacy for people struggling to survive on the margins of society. Garvin shared a story about his son advising a homeless man named Darnel in Maryland, where he attended law school, to see a doctor about a growth on his face.
"What he ended up finding out was that it was cancerous, if it was left untreated he was going to die," Garvin’s father said.
He also worked with former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office to help reduce gun violence in the city.
"I want people to be more like him, I want people to make space for each other," Naomi Garvin told WABC. "I want them to be curious about meeting each other and experiencing each other's cultures."