Friends and family of the Arlington man killed as he tried to stop a sexual assault plan to celebrate his life this weekend, remembering him as a kind, generous and “decidedly decent” person.
Arlington police say 54-year-old Patricio Salazar attempted to intervene when he saw another man, 27-year-old Michael Nash, sexually assaulting a woman near Doctor’s Run Park last Thursday (Oct. 18). Investigators claim that Nash struck Salazar and ultimately knocked him unconscious. Salazar died from his injuries a short time later.
Salazar’s family has organized a memorial service this Saturday (Oct. 27) at a local funeral home. In lieu of flowers, his family is asking people to donate to an online fundraiser that will benefit survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence, with plans to divide the money between a local charity and an organization in Salazar’s hometown of La Paz, Bolivia.
“My brother was very smart, funny, unassuming and humble about his gifts and talents,” Loty Salazar, Patricio’s sister, wrote in a description accompanying the GoFundMe page. “And, as he showed by his final act of great courage, he was a man of integrity and character, who believed in doing the right thing no matter what the cost. My family and I are at a loss to describe the depth of pain we are feeling. He has left us — and this world — far too soon, because we — and the world — really need heroes like him.”
Salazar’s sister declined a request for an interview, but his family did write in an online obituary that he attended college in Bolivia before transfering to the University of North Dakota, and eventually settling in Arlington.
Will Rubens, a Ballston resident and one of Salazar’s friends, told ARLnow that Salazar had lived in the county for close to 15 years. He first met Salazar at the old Greene Turtle bar in Ballston a few years ago, where they bonded over a shared love of sports, and the occasional beer.
“He was just a really warm, friendly, kind of goofy guy,” Rubens said. “He just had such a goofy lightness about him that immediately put a smile on your face. Most of our interactions were just joking around, and it always kind of made my day. You never knew exactly when you would run into him, so it was always a nice surprise.”
Rubens says Salazar had a passion for international soccer, the San Jose Sharks and the Oakland Raiders. But he was also a guitarist in his spare time, and loved attending local concerts, Rubens said.
His family added in the obituary that Salazar, known to his friends as “Pat,” had a passion for nature and animals and “was an avid walker and always longed for Bolivia and his Andean mountains.”
Rubens says that Salazar would return to La Paz fairly regularly to visit his family there, though he did also have some family around the D.C. area. In fact, Rubens says Salazar had offered to bring him back a memento after his next trip back home, in order to help Rubens complete his collection of fridge magnets from places he’s traveled for work.
“He was supposed to visit his family for Christmas and now that’s not to be, which is really sad… but I think it shows just what kind of guy Pat was,” Rubens said.
Rubens says he “felt like a freight train hit me” when he learned of Salazar’s death, as the two had just crossed paths a few days before his killing.
“I’m not surprised at all that he got involved, I think it was very brave of him,” Rubens said. “But Pat was not the kind of guy where he would’ve rushed in, guns blazing… he had no illusions of grandeur, he was not that kind of guy. But he always would’ve stopped if he saw somebody in need.”
Police arrested Nash this past Friday (Oct. 19), charging him with several counts related to the alleged sexual assault. He has yet to be charged in connection with Salazar’s death, but police say additional charges are likely forthcoming.
Nash is set for his first hearing in Arlington General District Court on Jan. 16.