Outpour of support after Castro murder

Steven “Eriq” Escalon always put family first.

Escalon, a 28-year-old hairstylist from Fresno was very close to his mother and his little sister Julissa.

He often acted as a father figure to Julissa and continued to provide financial support even when he moved away to San Francisco in Sept. 2011, according to his aunt Christina Saldivar:

“Julissa was his whole world and everyone knew it.”

But, five months ago, on June 12, Escalon was found dead in his Diamond Heights apartment by his roommate after being seen the night before getting into a cab with another man in front of popular bar 440 Castro.

Friends and family now are supporting Escalon by focusing their efforts on helping out his family the way he did.

Mike Burns — who had known Escalon for eight years — felt guilty after not being able to attend Escalon’s memorial last June in Fresno because he couldn’t fly out from Seattle in time.

Burns wanted to make up for it — and find a way to honor his friend.

Burns had been training for the Two Cities Marathon in Fresno and Clovis for the past few months, and remembered how Escalon talked about doing everything in his power to get Julissa to go to college.

So Burns decided to dedicate the marathon next Sunday, Nov. 4 in memory of his and Escalon’s friendship, and try to raise funds through sponsorship to help start up a college fund for Julissa.

That’s how “Running for Julissa” was created.

So far, Running for Julissa has raised more than $1,800, according to their indiegogo page. The goal is to raise $2,500 by Nov. 4.

Escalon’s mom and Julissa will be in attendance to cheer on Burns, according to Saldivar, who might also attend.

Burns told SFBay:

“Eriq was one of the kindest, happiest people I have known. … I think Eriq would be proud of me and I know he would meet me at the finish line with a huge smile and hug.”

Also contributing to Julissa’s college fund is Estella Salcido, Escalon’s former boss at Salon Innovation in Clovis, Calif., who is staging raffles and hair cut-a-thon events called “E’s Love for Sis,” according to Salon Innovation’s Facebook page.

The fundraising efforts will continue until Oct. 30.

Police have arrested James Rickleffs as a suspect. Rickleffs has been charged with one count of premeditated murder and one count of first-degree residential robbery in connection with Escalon’s case, as confirmed in an email by Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian.

A hearing is scheduled in Rickleffs’ case on Nov. 5.

Meanwhile, Escalon’s loved ones are still struggling with their tragic loss but choose to remember how much he brightened up their lives like a rainbow.

Escalon’s aunt Saldivar told SFBay:

“The lives of our family are changed forever with the loss of Eriq and it has been very heartwarming to see how much he was loved and how many lives he touched.”