Barber killed in Avondale shooting remembered as fun, family-oriented man

Family and friends remember barber Gabriel Sotelo, 34, who was killed in a shooting on the freeway in Avondale.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:06 PM MST
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GLENDALE (3TV/CBS 5) - Whether it was a buzz off the top, fade, or taper, Gabriel Sotelo, known as “Young AZ,” made a name for himself across the Valley and country.

“He wasn’t just a barber, he was an artist and he made us feel good,” said Chris Barbara, Owner of Dos Chris’ Bakery and Charcuterie Co. Barbara has been going to Gabriel for haircuts since 2016 and introduced his husband to the barber. The pair created a friendship with Gabriel and said they could talk to him about anything.

“He was like a brother to us and we just enjoyed that banter, listening to music while we were getting our haircuts, and while watching horror films that he constantly had on the tv,” Barbara said.

Sotelo’s life was taken Saturday afternoon when he was shot and killed while driving in Avondale. Gabriel’s customer, Isaac Ortega, who has been getting haircuts for eight years, said he just saw Gabriel on Friday, “he told me later on he would go support his son to go watch the football games.”

An entire community was shattered when they heard the news, “I just wish it wasn’t him,” Ortega said. Barbara added, “it’s going to be so hard tomorrow to wake up and not be able to go to see him.”

Sotelo leaves behind a pregnant wife and four kids. On Monday, his family spoke for the first time since his death to thank the community. “We definitely feel the love and support from everyone and we are so grateful that everyone is coming together for him and his family,” Sister-in-law Albani Villela said.

Friends and family described Sotelo as funny, kind, and loyal. “Gabe was just such a great man all around and he was very hardworking and has been doing everything he could to give his family the wonderful life that they have,” Villela said.

Sotelo’s reputation is still making an impact as a memorial grows outside his studio in Glendale. The inside sits empty as loved ones try to make sense of their new reality. “That’s something we all realize is that life still goes on even though it just feels like a big nightmare,” said Villela.

The family has started planning the funeral. If you would like to donate, visit their gofundme.

On Wednesday, Dos Chris’ Bakery and Charcuterie Co. will be donating half of their proceeds from sales to Sotelo’s family and will have a donation jar to donate to. They are located at 6007 North 16th St., Phoenix, AZ 85016.