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California Chaldean Store Owners Are Feeling Safer
By Sam Yousif :: Friday, March 13, 2009 :: 72278 Views :: Law & Order, Government & Society

California, USA – Local convenient store owners in the El Cajon and the San Diego area feel safer.  Jeda Athra, a mother of three teenagers works long hours with her husband at a corner retail store says she is happy to see the police and prosecuting attorneys taking a stronger stance against crime.  “They need to clean-up the criminals from the streets and let everyone know that holding-up a store in our town means you will go to jail.”

Athra’s husband adds, “Our state is bankrupt which means more crime and more problems.  We need police to scare bad people away from here before they kill anyone else.  Look at those two evil criminals that now face the death penalty.  It does not pay to hurt people in our city.”

The convenient store couple refer to the Thanksgiving bandits.  Franko “Dopes” Bernal and Samuel Thomas “Tommy” McCauley, 21 face a death sentence or life in prison for gunning down store workers in 2006.

Bernal, 24, and Samuel Thomas “Tommy” McCauley, 21, were convicted Feb. 11 of two counts of murder for gunning down, an 18-year-old man, and killing a 54-year-old clerk at Lemon Grove 7-Eleven, during a robbery.  The two were also convicted of attempted murder for shooting a customer in the jaw in the Nov. 25 robbery on Broadway near Buena Vista Avenue.  Bernal also was convicted of robbery and attempted robbery, and McCauley was convicted of robbery but acquitted of attempted robbery.

Lawyers for the two criminals argued for mercy, saying Bernal and McCauley had horrible childhoods.

McCauley's mother testified that she was a drug-addicted, alcoholic prostitute and couldn’t even count how many times she has been arrested on drug and prostitution charges. She said McCauley's trial was the first time she had seen her son since he was about 5 years old.

McCauley's father was a convicted sex offender who abused drugs and alcohol and often fought with his son, said defense attorney Daniel Mangarin.

Bernal had an equally hard life, his lawyers said. When he was 9, his father, a heavy drug user, was killed when he got caught up in a gang-related shooting. Two of the boy's uncles were shot in the head but survived, said Alternate Public Defender Jacqueline Crowle. She said Bernal's mother was addicted to heroin and methamphetamine.   Bernal was “a throwaway child,” Crowle said.

Deputy District Attorney James Romo told jurors that no matter how bad their childhood was, it doesn't make up for the pain McCauley and Bernal caused the families of those they killed.

“There are millions of children who grow up in horrible circumstances (with) alcoholic parents and fathers in prison and do not take that additional step to end another person's life,” Romo said.

Judge Allan J. Preckel set a March 20 hearing to determine the next step in the case.

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.