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Law enforcement seeks clues in death of popular Latino businessman
Betty Galvan adjusts merchandise Friday at the soon-to-open title pawn business named in memory of her former business partner David Sanchez. He was killed during a robbery in April 2012. - photo by NAT GURLEY

To provide information
Anyone with information in David Sanchez’s slaying case is asked to contact the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations Division at 770-531-6879. Submit anonymous tips at 770-503-3232.

One month after David Sanchez was killed, his family and friends said they would wear black until his killer was brought to justice.

More than a year later, his family and friends remain searching for answers.

“Frio,” his sister, Diana Cantu said in Spanish. “The investigation has gone cold,”

Sanchez, 46, was shot and killed during a robbery at Victory Foods in Gainesville on April 12, 2012.

Betty Galvan, his best friend and business partner, suspects the killer has long since fled the area. Cantu believes the killer remains a constant danger to the community at large.

But there are no answers.

In an effort to renew interest, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office submitted a release around the one-year anniversary of Sanchez’s death.

“We hope that by renewing public interest in the investigation, we can develop leads,” sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks said. “We’re confident that there are people out there with information who have not come forward.”

The pain of his death appears to have subsided somewhat. The two women often smile when thinking of their friend and brother.

But smiles turn to consternation when the subject of the investigation is brought up. Both feel that not enough is being done to catch Sanchez’s killer.

“They haven’t done anything,” Galvan said. “At this point we don’t know who has the investigation. We don’t even know if they investigated it or not.”

“I think because we’re Hispanic, they’re not putting that much interest in the investigation,” Galvan said as Cantu nodded her head in agreement. “But he was here for 20-something years. He contributed to the community a lot.”

Wilbanks stressed that any heinous act like homicide, no matter who it impacts, is given the office’s best effort.

“We want to emphasize that every homicide investigation that our office undertakes is absolutely of the highest importance, regardless of what segment of the community the victim is associated with,” he said. “Every victim has family and friends, and they are all a part of our community. They deserve to see justice served, and we want to do everything we can to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Galvan said deportation fears likely have hampered outreach efforts.

“People are not talking to law enforcement because they are scared for immigration,” Galvan said.

“Investigators were able to speak to a number of witnesses, but they are also confident that not all witnesses have come forward. This crime took place during a time when there were a lot of people moving openly about the area,” Wilbanks said.

Wilbanks said that a lack of people coming forward is the “primary reason” for the investigation hitting a wall.

“The bottom line is that this case, like many others, will likely hinge upon some key piece of information provided by someone who is familiar with the perpetrators,” he said.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations Division at 770-531-6879.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling 770-503-3232.

Galvan, along with Gainesville attorneys Arturo Corso and Dan Summer, are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Sanchez’s killers.

Cantu, with a clear note of distress in her voice, expressed what is likely on the mind of many concerned citizens.

“This person out there is a danger wherever he is, and not just to Hispanics, but the entire community,” she said.

The family is more cautious now, and no longer do mobile cash checking as part of business. Galvan closed Joyeria y Novedades Latinos, Sanchez’s check-cashing business, a few months after his death.

While the investigation has languished, Galvan is moving forward in new ventures without her partner.

“We got this place in February of last year,” she said, standing in her newest Atlanta Highway business as it underwent finishing renovations. “We we’re going to open it together. We were in the process of fixing the place when that happened to him.”

The new business, a title pawn and loan business that will sell novelty items as well, is called DSI — David Sanchez-Ibarra.

Sanchez is in their minds in other ways.

“Como dijera David,” is a commonly used phrase with friends and family, they said. That roughly translates to, “As David would say.”

But what Sanchez could have said, or accomplished, is all speculation now. And the self-starting businessman’s life was brimming with possibility, his family said.

“He was about halfway through with building a home in Mexico for his parents, and he planned to retire there,” Cantu said.

The embodiment of the American dream himself, the 30-year resident of the U.S. was a mere two days from becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, Galvan said.

He was slain while visiting the poultry plant on Industrial Drive to cash checks for workers there. His car and cash were stolen, the vehicle later recovered.

“He had already have everything. He just had to go to his appointment,” Galvan said.

Although his body is in Mexico with his family, Sanchez is not truly gone, Cantu and Galvan said.

“He still lives in our hearts,” Galvan said. “He is still with us.”

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