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Violence not new to family of man shot dead in mall

The deadly shooting at the Dimond Center last weekend wasn't the first time the victim's family lost a son to violence. Nor the second.

When Edwing Valentine Matos, 29, was gunned down by a man in an "Afro" wig and fake mustache Saturday in a high-profile shooting during shopping prime time, he was the third of four brothers to be felled over the years. And the fourth was blinded by a gunshot to the head, according to a family friend.

The family was still dealing with the murder of their eldest son -- his killer was convicted in December -- when they learned Edwing Matos had been killed, said the father, Guillermo Matos, 55.

"I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it," the father said in a brief interview Monday about when he heard of his son's death. "It's like a curse."

Police on Monday were still searching for the man who opened fire on the west end of Anchorage's busiest mall just before 6:30 p.m. and shot Matos several times outside a barber shop. Witnesses said the disguised shooter may have been watching Matos as he shopped, waiting for the right moment to strike.

Security footage has been examined. Police have interviewed more than a dozen witnesses, including a man who was with Matos and was tackled as he ran from the scene by an off-duty Alaska State Trooper. But on Monday, police offered no glimpse into whether they had any suspects or what the motivation might be.

Police initially reported the shooting was gang-related but backed off that assertion after checking out Matos and determining he was not a gang member, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said.

"We have not pieced all the pieces together, so, at this point in time, there's no indication that it was gang-related," Shell said.

Though he didn't want to speak in depth about the situation, Matos likewise said his son was not a gang member.

"It was nothing to do with (a gang)," Matos said. "It was to do with somebody robbing his house, breaking into the house and taking his stuff. And then the guy shot him down there."

That matches a tip police say they got in which Matos' XBox and other property had been stolen and he wanted to get it back. Detectives, however, wouldn't say whether they considered that a plausible scenario.

While Matos may not have been in a gang, he had been charged in a few criminal cases, though not in recent years.

In May 1999, "Valentine," as he was known, was arrested during an undercover drug operation after selling an officer $100 worth of cocaine, according to court records. Police found 36 grams of cocaine in Matos' pants and a handgun, black ski mask and a wad of cash in the vehicle.

Matos was again arrested in August 2002 while driving a stolen pickup, according to court records. Police found four baggies of marijuana and a rock of crack in the vehicle, and $770 cash in Matos' pocket.

In both those cases, he got jail time for several probation violations including possessing a Glock handgun, possessing marijuana and trying to use someone else's urine in a drug test, court documents say.

But he was not charged with a crime again in Alaska.

Violence involving Guillermo Matos' sons began creeping into headlines in the mid 1990s, not long before the legal problems began for Matos, the youngest.

The family was hard-working, according to Nate Kile, 33, who said he's known the family since grade school. Dishes were always clean and food was on the table. The mother gave them a loving upbringing and the father is a respectable man, he said. The home was a "safe haven" for friends, Kile said.

"Probably the biggest thing that was their downfall was spending 10 or 12 years living in Mountain View, because that was when Mountain View was a lot worse," Kile said. "The kids went to the school and that was the environment. They finally moved out of there, but during that time, that probably was when the family was exposed to most the stuff that ended up being a problem over the years."

The second-eldest, Manuel Gill, had been shot at least once before his death. In July 1996, he was struck several times in a shooting as he drove along North Bliss Street, according to news reports at the time. The passenger of the vehicle, 20-year-old Preston Clark, was killed in the gunfight that began when two pedestrians passed by and recognized Clark as a man with whom they'd had a beef.

Gill survived the shooting but was later killed during a fight with a friend in California. He was pushed and hit his head, Matos said.

The third oldest, also named Guillermo Matos, was shot in the head outside a Mountain View apartment complex on Price Street in May 1998, according to news reports. He survived the shooting, but was blinded by it, Kile said.

"His blindness has really affected him in a way to where, you know, no education, no employment, just psychologically, the depression that follows being blind, period," Kile said.

On Sept. 10, 2003, the eldest son, Adam Calderon, 33, was shot dead by a friend, Derrick Wren, 37, at a home on Bunnell Street after Wren's recent release from jail on a felony drunken driving charge. Wren had been drinking heavily -- prosecutors described his conduct in court documents as "sloppy" -- when Calderon said, "You're embarrassing me. I need to get you out of here," according to court documents.

Wren then pointed a Glock pistol at Calderon and fired three shots, killing him, according to prosecutors. Wren was convicted of second-degree murder this past December.

Edwing Matos was the youngest, Kile said. Matos had a job and a girlfriend. He took care of his kids and Guillermo with his disability, Kile said.

Police described Matos' killer as a light-skinned, black or Hispanic adult, roughly 6 feet tall and weighing between 220 and 240 pounds. He was seen wearing an oversized white sweatshirt and white baseball hat, police said. He was also wearing an "Afro" wig and fake mustache, according to police.

Police are asking anyone who knows the people involved in the shooting to call them at 786-8900 or Crime Stoppers at 561-7867.

Find James Halpin at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or 257-4589.

Video: Police describe mall shooting