Monday, August 1, 2016

Jose Vivar was in a gang called the Latino America Boys, Christie Pits shooting victim

TORONTO - A fitness instructor who was wounded in a Christie Pits shooting once penned columns from behind bars about prison life and how his arrest helped him change for the better.

Lawyer John Struthers said he believes 35-year-old fitness instructor Alejandro Jose Vivar was targeted by a gunman.

Vivar is a father who spent more than eight years in prison on drug charges before his release in March, said Struthers, who has known him since 2003.

In 2003, Vivar — accused of participating in a gang called the Latino America Boys — was found not guilty of a first-degree murder charge. However, he was later jailed in 2007 on the drug charges.

While in prison, Vivar wrote a prison diary for at least two years for the Kingston Whig-Standard, under the byline Jose Vivar.

“He’s a highly intelligent and articulate guy who probably should be a writer,” Struthers said.

In his last diary entry, dated March 30, Vivar wrote about entering prison as a “gangster, convicted of serious crimes.”

In a 2015 post, he said his arrest “helped change me for the better.”

The Prison Pump fitness camp he was running Saturday morning at the park is an idea he conceived behind bars, according to his lawyer. Police said a gunman shot him in the abdomen during the class.

It was a free weekly fitness camp. The first camp ran in May.

“He did that almost immediately on his release,” Struthers said.

The Prison Pump website lists Vivar as a founder. He calls Prison Pump and 25/7 Fitness an idea he dreamed about “six months before being released, and now I see it is becoming a reality.”

Struthers said Vivar was imprisoned as a young man who had time to think about the road ahead.

“Clearly, we had every hope that his good intentions and his hard work were going to actually provide him with a future, and this is a very devastating setback,” he said of the shooting that landed Vivar in hospital.

Struthers added he is concerned for Vivar’s safety.

“I don’t know who did this or why, but obviously there’s still someone out there,” he said.

Toronto Police said he was in stable condition in hospital. A second person was hit in the foot by a stray bullet.

Below are excerpts from Alejandro Jose Vivar’s column, which ran in the Kingston Whig-Standard for at least two years and included his thoughts on everything from prison food to losing his beloved dog while behind bars.

•“I loved my dog. There are times at night that I wish he could be right next to me. There are times when I walk in the prison yard and I imagine that I have a tennis ball and I throw it as far as I can and I watch Fordy run like hell after it. I remember the times when my family would put him on the phone and he would slobber all over the receiver and he would snort and bark at the sound of my voice.” — Vivar wrote of learning about his dog’s death from behind bars in November 2014

“If it were not for that night, I truly believe I would not be the person I am today. I would not have dreams of being a writer and going back to school and there would definitely be no Prison Diary. I would not have made the promise to live life to its full potential, to appreciate every single day, whether in prison or not. And to love life and cherish the people who care for me.

That is why when I look back at the night I got arrested, I am thankful that it happened.” — Vivar wrote of his arrest in an April 2015 column

•“To all the readers of The Kingston Whig-Standard and Prison Diary, I am honoured to have shared with you prison sports, Christmases in prison, the prison library, segregation cells, and prison book clubs, amongst other things. Writing Prison Diary is something that has convinced me that I am more than a gangster. I am a writer. Thank you for being there throughout my journey and helping me to realize my life story.” — Vivar’s final column was written after his release this spring.
Please share this

No comments:

Post a Comment