When Gabriela Sifuentes Castilla, better known as Gaby Ramos, rushed to open her front door around 1:30 am on Sunday, she thought help had arrived.
A call to 911 had been placed moments earlier after she and her ex fiancé, Manuel Omar Burciaga Perea, got into a heated argument over an engagement ring.
Ms Ramos’ sister, Rocio Sifuentes, who shared the house with her, says Mr Burciaga Perea had been waiting outside their Salt Lake County home and at one point punched the front window. Rattled, she called for help, and when the sisters heard a knock at the door, they expected to see a responding officer. Instead, it was the 36-year-old man who proceeded to shoot Ms Ramos dead.
“He was knocking, then started banging on the door, and we had our two nieces in the house. And so then, my sister opened the door and told him to leave and he shot her. It was a matter of seconds — everything was so fast, it happened so fast,” Ms Sifuentes told KSL.
On Monday, the Taylorsville Police Department shared pictures of Mr Burciaga Perea, who they considered to be “armed and dangerous”. He was last seen fleeing the scene in a 2000 Chevy extended cab truck.
That same afternoon, the victim’s family gathered outside her home in sheer disbelief.
Holding back tears, Ms Sifuentes remembered her younger sister, who worked at station KMRI La Más Picosita, as a “really lovely woman, really brave”. She called her a feminist who was beloved and respected by her community.
Speaking to ABC 4, Ms Sifuentes said she felt “super angry, super sad”. She also called on the public to share pictures of Burciaga Perea, “her killer, el asesino.” She speculated the suspect could be en route to Chihuahua, Mexico, where he has family.
“We want him to be captured. He is a very violent, jealous and possessive person,” she said. “I think he planned all this. That’s what he wanted, to hurt my sister.”
According to a National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017, more than one in three Latinas (34.4%) reported being victims of a partner’s sexual/physical violence or stalking.
Speaking in Spanish, Ms Sifuentes asked for women who might be in abusive relationships to muster the courage to speak up. “Don’t think that it can’t happen to you; that the person who’s supposed to love you won’t hurt you,” she said. “If you see signs of violence, file a complaint and protect yourself.”
A candlelight vigil is planned outside Ms Ramos’ house on Tuesday evening.