Reporting Anjali Hemphill
MODESTO (CBS13) – The paparazzo hit by a car and killed trying to take pictures of Justin Bieber’s car in Los Angeles was laid to rest Thursday in Modesto.
It was a small private funeral for 29-year-old Christopher Guerra at the Valley Home Memorial Park near Modesto where he grew up. Family members say they found out about Chris’ death on the news.
“He was a wonderful young man and we really loved him,” said Carol Guerra, Chris’ aunt.
Family and close friends gathered around a gravesite to remember Chris, who was killed New Year’s Day while trying to take pictures of the pop star.
“He would do anything for anybody, and he wouldn’t tell you what he was giving up in order to give it to you,” said Carol.
The Modesto native’s death on the side of the road in L.A. made international headlines.
Chris went to Johansen High School; and then, years later, he landed his dream job as a celebrity photographer.
“I went ‘oh my god, Vicky, it’s on the internet.’ And then, we saw his hat and his shoe in the road. That was how we knew it was Chris,” said Carol.
Chris death has re-sparked a debate over the role of paparazzi in the celebrity world. But, support has come from the very celebrities he earned a living photographing. Charlie Sheen even wrote a check for $12,000 for the family’s funeral expenses.
“It doesn’t matter who gives what, what the amount is, cause obviously Charlie Sheen has a lot more money than most. A $5 donation from anybody is a gift of love, a prayer is a gift of love, and we appreciate everything,” said Carol.
The family says the greatest gift that comes after Chris death is knowing he made them all so proud, he lived out his passion, and he died doing the same thing.
“Chris loved what he did. He loved it, and he had respect,” said Carol.
Chris is buried next to other family members. He leaves behind his parents, three brothers and a sister, all from Modesto.