It’s been an extremely challenging and traumatic few years for this close-knit family. With the recent sentencing, comes a bit of peace and closure; this however, will not turn back time and erase the horror they’ve experienced. Although small in stature, Dominick was mighty in courage. His sister Amber has shown immense strength, as she fought for survival and pushed onward with her own healing. These two amazing children have been an inspiration to many, and will surely continue for years to come.
Here is a Courier-Post article, with updates on the case:
This weekend, there has been a vigil to honor those who lost their lives at the hands of another, in the city of Camden this year. At 7pm tonight, they will be commemorating Camden’s young hero, Dominick Andujar.
If you cannot attend the vigil, please take a moment to send love and prayers.
- 26 Nov 2012
- The Philadelphia Inquirer
- By Claudia Vargas INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Littlest Hero
Camden family: Slain boy was a fighter.
Even in his most hyper moments, 6-year-old Dominick Andujar, who preferred break dancing and wrestling to homework, would stop whatever he was doing if he knew his mother was sick or needed help.
“He was my little man … my son, my everything,” Debbie Burgos, 34, of Camden, said.
Dominick promised Burgos in August he would protect her if anyone ever tried to hurt her. She never expected that a few days after Dominick made that vow, he would act the hero and die for it.
Just after midnight Sept. 2, a man broke into the Burgos family’s Ware Street house while her four children were home alone and attacked her 12- year- old daughter, Amber, who was sleeping on the living-room couch.
Dominick, awakened by his sister’s screams, tried to stop him. “My son was a fighter,” Burgos said during an interview last week, the family’s first since the attacks. “From what I saw on him, his marks, he had to be fighting.” Dominick died in the house after the intruder cut his throat and hands. He gave the man enough of a struggle that Amber was able to escape and ask neighbors for help.
Dominick’s death, along with the shocking beheading of a 2-year-old in August, helped bring national attention to what has become a record-setting year of homicides in Camden. Letters for the Andujars poured in from all over the country, expressing support and prayers. Family members have a hard time describing the chaos and trauma of that night, but they agree on one thing: Dominick gave his life for his three sisters.
“Who would’ve guessed that in a world where so often men act like little boys, here’s a little boy acting like a man,” said Msgr. Michael Mannion, who has known the Burgos family for many years. Those who knew Dominick and his family weren’t surprised the boy defended his sister against a knife-wielding man. “His family is what you wanted to see: a family who comes out in support of the children,” said Bryan Morton, founder of the North Camden Little League, where Dominick played for the Phillies T- ball team. “When you get that from your family, that’s what you give back in return.”
Dominick came into this world on March 18, 2006, at CooperUniversityHospital, holding his twin brother’s hand. Dave died at birth, though, and Dominick became the only brother of Tiarra, now 14; Amber, 12; and Amy, 9.
After Dominick’s parents split up when he was 2, he acquired a mature confidence, his mother said. By age 3, Dominick was picking out his own outfits, most often his favorite red shirt under a blue shirt and gray pants, his sisters said. And either his black Nike or gray Adidas sneakers, both of which were in need of a good scrubbing. Yet he wouldn’t allow his mother to clean them. “He wanted the most dirtiest sneakers,” his mother said. “Shoestrings off, beat-up.”
When he got home from ECOCharterSchool, Dominick often would decline homework help from his sisters and go to play with his best friend, Zaymier, who lived a few houses down. The boys would wrestle and play Xbox or Wii games. Growing up in a house full of women, Dominick, despite seeing himself as “the man of the house,” was bound to get suckered into girl play. His youngest sister, Amy, loved to dance the cha-cha, and Dominick would wear his mother’s high heels so he could be taller.
Last summer was Dominick’s first time in the T-ball league. Dominick and Amy, who was on one of the Little League teams, practiced twice a week (on different days), and play games on the weekends. “They were there endlessly as a family,” Morton said. “They pulled up in the minivan, and everyone jumped out.” The family did everything together, including staying up until midnight on each of their birthdays.
On Saturday, Sept. 1, Debbie Burgos and her four children stayed up late to sing “Happy Birthday” to Amber, who was turning 12 that Sunday. The children were excited to be going to ClementonPark later to celebrate. But Burgos, who has had kidney problems, felt sharp pain and decided to go to VirtuaHospital in Camden to get checked out. As she had done before, she left 14-year-old Tiarra in charge and told all four to go to bed. Amber, who said she regretted not telling her mother she wanted to accompany her, went downstairs to sleep on the couch to wait for her mother and chained the front door. Moments later, a man police identified as Osvaldo Rivera was inside the house assaulting Amber with a knife. “When I was getting attacked, I heard [Dominick] screaming and I looked and somehow I got away,” Amber said, holding back tears before sobbing on her mother’s shoulder. Amber escaped and ran to a neighbor’s house, where she was given a blanket to help stop the bleeding from her neck wound. The noise awoke Tiarra, who came downstairs and found Dominick on the floor, already dead. She ran out screaming and found Amber waiting for an ambulance. “I was telling her to stay strong, that she would get through it,” Tiarra said. As Debbie Burgos was leaving VirtuaHospital, she received a mysterious phone call with someone saying, “Your son’s neck just got sliced,” she said. In shock, she drove straight to CooperHospital, where she learned first of her son’s death and then of Amber’s critical condition.
Back on Ware Street, a manhunt had begun. “It was a tough night,” Camden Police Chief Scott Thompson said. “I knew there was a monster in my city.” About 15 hours after the attacks, Rivera, 31, was arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder, and sexual assault. Rivera told investigators that he had smoked “wet,” a combination of marijuana and PCP that has been known to lead to vivid hallucinations and bursts of violence.
Amber underwent two operations to repair her esophagus and trachea, which had been cut. She is now able to speak and eat. “She’s a soldier just like her brother,” her uncle Peter Burgos said. “Her brother fought for her, and she fought to make sure her brother didn’t die for nothing.” Amber is undergoing physical and psychological therapy and is being home-schooled. Her two sisters are back at school and are also meeting with counselors.
The Andujar and Burgos family is doing what it has always done: sticking together and supporting one another. Family members know it’s going to be a long road to recovery. “Behind my smile, behind my kindness, I’m like torn apart,” Debbie Burgos said. “I got to be strong for my daughters because they need me.”
Inquirer Article Notification
For all those who have sent their prayers and support for Amber and Dominick, I wanted to let you know about a powerful article that I thought you might find of interest, written by The Inquirer.
Messages of Love
September 20, 2012
Rest in Peace baby boy!
~ Christy N., Gloucester City, New Jersey
My deepest,heart-aching, condolences to the family of brave little Dominick.He is a TRUE HERO! Baby boy, you are an Angel, spread your wings and fly…I didn’t know you,but I will NEVER forget you…
You are a hero baby boy… You will never be forgotten.
LOVE U DOMINICK… U WILL MOST DEF.BE MISSED LIL MAN… TITI JANET
We may be miles away in Milwaukee, but our hearts are breaking along with your family. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with your family. Dominick is now in Paradise with our Heavenly Father and he will be watching over you always. God Bless, Manuel and Kathy Torres
September 08, 2012
ITS SAD HOW YOU WAS TAKEN AWAY RIP LITTLE ANGEL YOUR NOW IN HEAVEN WITH OUR FATHER WATCHING OVER YOUR FAMILY IN WHICH I HOPE THEY FIND PEACE WITH IN OUR PRAYERS WE ARE SENDING OVER FOR YOU GOD BLESS YOU BABY DOMINCK
To Debbie Burgos,Janet Colon and family, please accept my sincere condolences to you and your family.There are no words that will ease the pain and heartache that was placed on your shoulders..sending many prayers to you and yours…
~ Tracy Wyatt, New Jersey
September 07, 2012
My condolences to the Burgos, Andujar family may the peace of God reign in your souls!
September 07, 2012
September 07, 2012
FOR MY HERO
Such a beautiful little boy. Such a great loss for this world, I can only imagine what your family is going thru. My heart goes out to you today and hope that you can be full of the love you shared. I pray that God gives you the strengh to go on and i know your little boy is with him right now watching over all of you. Bless your whole family. Cherish his memory you had and let it live on in your hearts.
Taken Too Soon
At just six years old, Dominick was a true hero, bravely standing up to his attacker, and sacrificing his own life to save his big sister, Amber.
Amber, who had been looking forward to celebrating her 12th birthday that day, showed immense courage that night, in fighting off her attacker and then going door-to-door to get help. She is still in the hospital and, after several surgeries, is on her way to recovery. She, along with her two sisters, have been so strong throughout this horrible tragedy.
News articles can be found here: Dominick Andujar
Dominick, you will forever be missed by those who knew you and loved you. Rest in paradise.
Dominick D. Andujar
AGE: 6 • Camden
Departed this life on 9/2/12. He leaves to cherish his life his mother Debbie Burgos; father David Andujar; sisters Tiarra, Amy, Solnydia-Amber; brother David Figueroa; grandmothers Rosario Burgos & Miriam Rosa; grandfather Pedro Burgos; step grandfather David Acevedo; 3 aunts Kimberly Burgos; Solnydia Yambo & Janet Colon; 1 uncle Peter Burgos and a host of family & friends. Viewing Fri 6pm-9pm at St. Cecilia Catholic Ch, 4824 Camden Ave, Pennsauken, NJ. Service is Sat 9:30AM and Int to follow at Calvary Cemetery. In Lieu of flowers please send donations to The Dominick Andurjar Fund at PNC Bank, 2895 Mt. Ephraim Ave, Camden, NJ 08104. Ministry of Comfort Entrusted to May Funeral Home. www.mayfuneralhomes.com.Obituary Published in Courier-Post on September 7, 2012
Thank You So Very Much!
The outpouring of support from the local Camden Community and beyond has been immense and is so very much appreciated.
A Poem From a Friend
flowers for the dearly departed
from friends and family, all broken hearted
so young and full of life
struck down, spreading strife
noone could have predicted what took place
he is with the Lord now, in a safer place
she struggles but keeps up the fight
refusing to let extinguished be her light
the brothers memory lives on
the sister keeps going strong
tears have been and will be shed
prayers will be lifted for the beloved dead
hands will be held and emotions will be shared
by each and every person that cared
why must such violence spread amuck
why did the end have to be reached on his luck
all the hatred and negativity on this our earth
its rdiculous, when we all come from the same hearth
brothers and sisters one and all
the love should be shared
before everyone falls.
my condolences to tia and peter
have faith in Him, our Creator.
The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers,
donations in memory of Dominick Andujar may be made to:
Dominick Andujar Fund
c/o PNC Bank
2895 Mt. Ephraim Avenue
Camden, NJ 08104
Please keep the family in your prayers.