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Raising Funds For South Central Taquero With Bullet Lodged In Body After Violent Robbery

photo: via GoFundMe for Vicky Galeno

Street food is regularly obsessed about. Los Angeles is celebrated for its abundance of sidewalk vendors, roaming carts, and taco trucks that have made the city what it is today touted in campaign ads and tourist promos. But beneath the veneer exists a world where street vendors' slim profits are too often targeted by neighborhood extortionists, heartless municipal authorities, and desperate criminals that can turn vending into a dangerous profession where one's life is on the line.

Out of South Central Los Angeles comes the tragic story of Virginio "Vicky" Galeno and Pili Valadés, owners of the region's Tacos Puebla truck. On the night of March 30, an attempted robbery of less than $100 left the duo nearly too frightened to continue working, as well as a bullet lodged in Galeno's body.

Univison featured their story, relating how these partners in life and business survived the COVID pandemic running the truck they'd purchased through years of hard work. In the wee hours of March 30, the owners had just closed after hours of work, sticking around their spot at 28th and Main Streets to clean up.

An armed man suddenly appeared, demanding money from Valadés, and quickly striking her in the head with his pistol. "I only felt fright when I saw the gun in his hand," she told reporters.

The criminal then turned to her husband, Vicky, telling him to hand over money. According to the report, the man didn't find what he was after and shot Galeno in the back of the head. The bullet then hit his jaw, fracturing it and leaving a nasty facial wound, before lodging in his body.

LAPD officers from the Newton Division responded to the emergency call, but have not located or named a suspect in the attempted robbery. The man is described as Hispanic and around the age of 25.

Galeno was rushed to intensive care and unconscious for multiple days. Doctors informed him that the bullet remained in him, in a "very sensitive area" that could create more severe problems if disturbed or if it should move.

As of last week, Galeno was using a walker, looking uneasily towards the day when he may require further surgery. While lucky to survive the attack, the couple is rattled, their ability to do business as they did before suffering from both the physical and psychic scars of a violent crime that could have easily ended their lives.

Galeno's family has set up a GoFundMe page with hopes of raising $10,000 for his recovery, medical bills, and to offset financial losses stemming from the violent attack. At the time of this writing, $1,275 has been raised.

A note to supporters and would-be supporters reminds us, "Unfortunately, rent and bills don't wait, and the road to recovery from something like this is long and painful."

Here's wishing him a fast and full recovery and continued success for the business.

Again, here is the Go Fund Me Page accepting donations for Galeno's care:

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