Social worker allegedly killed by teen she was trying to help
SONOMA, Calif. - A Sonoma County family is grieving the killing of a mother, sister, daughter.
Sylvia Bracamonte, 33, was a social worker allegedly killed by a teenager she was trying to help.
"She wasn't even supposed to work that day, said sister-in-law Lauren Ambroselli.
But with everyone staying inside, they needed groceries and supplies so she went on her day off to drop things off for them."
The fatal attack happened at a group home in downtown Cotati Friday afternoon.
Suspect Anderson Quinonez-Cabeza, 18, surrendered at the scene.
Bracamonte's family says he had previously made verbal threats against her, although she was trying to help him.
"She was the one who insisted he come live in the house," said Ambroselli, "because he was young and struggling and needed guidance so she was the one to help and support him."
Bracamonte's own path to social work was a roundabout one.
"At a young age I got involved in gangs and drugs," she recounts in a 2014 speech, while being honored as a Latina scholar.
Before the age of 16, she dropped out of school.
"From that point on I lived a very dangerous lifestyle for the next eight years," she admits.
But at 24, the birth of her son was a turning point.
Bracamonte enrolled in Santa Rosa Junior College, while still homeless and in transitional housing.
She graduated as SRJC valedictorian, and went on to U.C. Berkeley to earn two degrees in Social Welfare.
"You don't see those success stories too often," said Cal classmate Brenda Arjona, "and she went all the way to getting her Masters degree at U.C. Berkeley."
After graduation, Bracamonte returned to Sonoma County.
At at the group home, she helped young adults struggling with homelessness, as she once had.
"I'm angry that people there knew she felt threatened and didn't do more to protect her," said friend Arjona.
"But that shows her heart, she truly had a heart for these people."
Now the seven bedroom group home is closed, haz mat tape sealing the doors.
A few candles on the steps memorialize Bracamonte.
"I feel like my life experiences have empowered me with the strength and empathy that I can use to touch the lives of many people," she said in her previous speech.
A GoFundMe has been established to benefit Bracamonte's children, a son who is 11 and a daughter, 3.
Her family says she was devoted to her kids, and passionate about helping young people, whose challenges she could relate to.
"She might be having the hardest day but at the end we could always have a laugh, she was just the most resilient human being," said Arjona.
"She was a tough cookie," added Ambroselli, "and she would let you know, express her opinions and we loved her for that."