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Former Bulldog standout athlete Malagon remembered
CHS grad leaves behind fiance, children
Ceres High grad Luis Malagon, pictured far right with friends Roberto Chavez, Daniel Munoz and Roland Salazar at Diablo Grande Golf Club last November, was killed this past week. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Luis Malagon's violent death has left family members, former teammates and coaches, and friends in mourning.

The 2006 Ceres High grad was killed this past weekend.

Malagon was pronounced dead at a local hospital early Saturday morning after being shot inside Latino's Bar on Mitchell Road in Ceres.

He leaves behind his fiancée and three children.

"He wasn't involved in gangs or drugs," said Roland Salazar, a friend and former teammate. "It sounds like he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Everybody liked him. People gravitated to him. He was very friendly. He was very charming. He was very charismatic. He was fun and energetic. He was genuine, sincere and humble. He had an amazing work ethic and good morals. He loved his kids and fiancée so much. That's all he talked about. He was in a good spot in his life."

Salazar learned of Malagon's passing via a phone call from Daniel Munoz.

Roland, Luis and Daniel played sports together for a number of years.

"I got the news at 4:15 a.m.," Salazar said. "I was passing through Manteca on my way to Ceres. I had just flown into Sacramento from Texas. I was in disbelief. Every time I come to town, I always see Luis. I talked with him last Sunday. He was going to bring his entire family to my brother's graduation party."

Luis starred in football and baseball at Ceres High School.

Brett Johnson was Malagon's defensive coordinator for two seasons on the gridiron.

"It's a total shock," Johnson said while talking about his former player's passing. "It's a huge loss. I found out the day after it happened. I couldn't believe it. It made me sick. I had to sit down for a few moments and pray. Luis was a great young man."

A standout linebacker, Malagon led the Bulldogs to a share of the Modesto Metro Conference championship during his junior year.

He earned first-team, all-league honors for his outstanding play on defense.

Luis had 119 tackles, three sacks, one interception, which he returned 89 yards for a score, and one fumble recovery.

He registered a career-high 21 tackles against Franklin in the playoffs.

"Luis was very respectful, very coachable, very hard-working and very team-orientated," Johnson said. "He was selfless. He did what was best for the team. He was fun to coach."

Malagon was named Ceres High's Defensive Most Valuable Player his senior year.

Luis tallied 89 tackles and one fumble recovery.

He was an honorable-mention, all-MMC selection.

"He made me a better player, said Brent Avila, who started alongside Malagon at linebacker in 2005. "You didn't have to worry about what he was doing. He always did his job. He held himself to a high standard."

Avila and Malagon were teammates in baseball at the high-school, travel-ball and youth levels.

Luis started at shortstop for two seasons at Ceres High.

Malagon was selected to the MMC Second Team his senior year.

He was also named the team's MVP.

Luis batted .390 with one homer, six doubles, 13 RBIs, 18 runs and 25 stolen bases.

"We played baseball together for years," Avila said. "He was always good. He made everything look easy."

The community had raised over $20,000 for Malagon's family through GoFundMe as of Tuesday morning.

A co-ed fundraiser softball tournament will be staged this weekend at Pedretti Park in Turlock.

"We'll all have time to grieve," Salazar said. "Right now, we have to focus on his fiancée and kids. Everybody is mobilizing around his family."

The suspected shooter, Rigoberto Cisneros, 36, of Empire, was arrested at the Apex Inn on Yosemite Boulevard Monday evening.

Further details of the investigation have yet to be released.

"It's still hard to believe," Avila said. "The whole situation is unfathomable. Luis was the most level-headed person. I never saw him get mad. Last time I saw him, we were playing in a slow-pitch softball league. He never changed. He was the same exact person since we were 10. He was a funny dude. He was quick-witted. He would joke with people he knew. He was a great guy."

Salazar misses his longtime friend.

Roland and Luis played a combined six seasons of football together, including three at Ceres High and three with the Ceres Cowboys Youth Football & Cheer Organization.

"I didn't know anybody that had a work ethic like Luis," Salazar said. "He never complained. He was a natural leader. He was a stud athlete. I was lucky enough to keep in contact with him after we graduated from high school. He loved his family and friends. We all loved him."