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California Chaldean Store Owners Are Feeling Safer
By Sam Yousif :: Friday, March 13, 2009 :: 88220 Views :: Article Rating :: 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.

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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.