Family gathers for the funeral of Patrick Balbastro - Tucson News Now

Family gathers for the funeral of Patrick Balbastro

Balbastro Balbastro
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Plenty of friends and family are expected to fill St. Augustine Cathedral Saturday for the funeral of Patrick Balbastro.

"My cousins legacy, he was a hero, he is our hero," said Tina Newbury, a cousin of Patrick Balbastro.

Newbury, Doreen Martinez, and Monica Monkemeier said Thursday that they were pleased to know police have caught the man suspected of killing their cousin Patrick Balbastro, or Pat, as they know him.

"Everything that happened that day, as we look back on it, wouldn't change. It wouldn't have changed if he knew what the outcome would have been," Newbury said.

Police said Michael Leday and Cindy Burnett got out of a yellow cab on Sunland Vista on the south side New Years Day, and when Balbastro and his girlfriend drove near the couple, Bal astro called 911 to report a man assaulting a woman.  Police said that Balbastro got out of his car to intervene, but that Leday got into Balbastro's car and repeatedly drove over the other three.  Burnett and Bslbastro died.  Balbastro's girlfriend remains hospitalized.  U.S. Marshals and police caught Leday in Kansas City this week.

"None of us ever questioned and thought, like, 'why did he have to stop? Why did he have to stop and help that lady?' That was never a question for any of us just because its like, that's the type of person he is, that's the type of family that we are," Martinez said.

Pat Balbastro visited his family in California often, and was an avid Dodger and Laker fan.  He was the youngest of four children, but his cousin say Pat Balbastro was humble and not an attention seeker.  But right now, plenty are thinking about who he was and what he did in his last moments.

"The first thing that came to me was like, how proud I was an honor to be his cousin.  "That's what I felt right away," Monkemeier said.

As the family deals with funeral expenses, they hope that police will also focus on those who knew Leday and where he was after the murder, yet hindered the investigation.

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The funeral is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Augustine Cathedral.

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