Thursday, July 07, 2005

Police Charge Suspected Taco Land Murderers

From WOAI 4:50:45 PM

Joseph Gamboa and Jose Najera were charged today with the murder of Taco Land owner Ram Ayala. Gamboa was already in custody at the Bexar County Jail on unrelated charges. Najera was arrested today.

Seventy-two-year-old Ram Ayala was shot to death as he sat at his popular bar on Grayson Street near downtown on June 24th. Denise Koger and Douglas Morgan were also shot in the robbery, but they survived. They remain hospitalized in critical condition.

Crimestoppers was offering a $5,000 reward for information about the murder.

Ayala's family told News 4 WOAI Tacoland most likely close because of their father's death. “The business itself, without my father there is no Tacoland,” Ayala’s daughter Sylvia Navarro said. “Tacoland was reminiscent of Ram Ayala and it was all about my father. Without him, it is not the same.”

Ramiro “Ram” Ayala ran Taco Land, a bar known for helping develop and showcase countless musicians.

“It's a sad day in the music business,” explains booking agent Roland Fuentes. “Tacoland was Ram. His attitude. His style.”

Taco Land is known worldwide; legendary for live music and its unusual owner. Patrons knew Ayala as a gruff curmudgeon of a bartender – with a heart of gold. He opened his one of kind bar to everyone from the homeless to rich college kids. Everyone was welcome.

“He lived hard and he loved hard,” said Fuentes.

“I'm still in shock right now,” said Ayala's son, Mark Cruz. He can't believe his dad is gone. “My dad was kind, big-hearted. Anything that anyone needed, he would give if it would help.”

Friends describe Ram as a man who spent his entire life helping others. He gave many upstart bands their first shot on stage, and bands from across the country looked forward to the chance to play the famed Taco Land.

“Ram cared about all of his bands like they were his sons,” said Fuentes.

In 1969 when the nearby bottling plant shut down, Ram turned his taco joint into a world-renowned live music hotspot.

Jeff Smith played Taco Land in the early 90's. “Ram was a great guy,” said Smith. “He was an unusual individual. He had pretty salty language.”

“He expressed himself a lot with cuss words. I mean, he would cuss everybody out – but in a nice way,” said Frank Rodarte with a grin.

We interviewed Ram in 1999. “To me, it wasn't music at all. It was just a bunch of racket. That was the 'in' thing then,” Ram told WOAI about some of the famed punk bands that had played his bar.

In 1999 Ram was featured in a documentary by Laura Escamilla-Fouratt about Taco Land. “Not everybody can say that they had a movie about a bar - my bar - or a business they have,” Ram said proudly.

Police say Thursday night two newcomers to the bar decided to rob the place. Then shot Ram and two of his employees. Doorman Douglas Morgan, 53, and bartender Denise "Sunshine" Koger, 41, were injured in the shooting — Morgan critically.

“He was a person who helped others,” mourner Tony Sanchez told WOAI. “I don't know how anyone could do this. There's no reason for it.”

“It's very tragic,” said Cruz. “I can't believe someone could do this to him.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i DID NOT KNOW UNTIL YESTERDAY THAT i WAS ONE OF THE LAST PEOPLE TO SEE RAM ALIVE. RAM WAS ONE OF THE BEST FRIENDS I HAVE EVER HAD.I MOVED PERMANANTLY TO SEATTLE IN 1999 AND IN 2005 I HAD THE MONEY AND THE TIME TO COME BACK AND VISIT WITH HIM AND OTHERS. I WAS STAYING AT THE MOTEL DOWN THE STREET AND AFTER WATCHING THE SPURS WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP, I WENT BY TO VISIT RAM BEFORE GOING TO MY ROOM. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT THIS WOULD BE THE LAST TIME THAT I OR ANYONE ELSE WOULD EVER SEE HIM ALIVE. I HOPE THEY FRY THE SON OF A BITCH WHO KILLED MY FRIEND. THANKS FOR HAVING THIS BLOG HERE SO I CAN VENT A LITTLE. TINA BERKLEY