'I wish this was all a dream': Mother of 9-year-old killed thanks community for support at BBQ event

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hundreds of Houstonians attended a barbecue benefit Sunday in support of the family of 9-year-old Arlene Alvarez, who police say was shot and killed by a robbery victim in southeast Houston.

Vehicles got in line for a $10 barbecue sandwich plate in the 10800 block of Scarsdale Boulevard from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event was organized by Constable Jerry Garcia and Harris County Constable Precinct 2.

"We were thinking maybe we could help out in some way and sell about 500 plates of barbecue, and it just kept growing. It's huge now," said Garcia. "It's because of the love and support of the community."

All the proceeds went to the Alvarez family as they plan for Arlene's funeral.

"I never thought I was going to go through this. I wish this was all a dream," Arlene's mother, Gwen said at Sunday's event. "I'm so appreciative of everyone who has come together. My baby was a caregiver, and she's going to bless everybody that's here."

At the event, there was a trail ride for the family's arrival, with a pony representing Arlene.

"We're doing this to bring justice to the many kids who have died due to gun violence. We have criminals still coming out on bonds that maybe should not be coming out," said Arlene's father, Armando. "We need a change, and it needs to be changed quickly because another child could die tomorrow. There's no telling with these criminals.

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The child was shot on Valentine's Day as she sat in the back of her family's pickup truck near a Chase Bank ATM.

Police said a man who had just been robbed at the ATM fired into the pickup thinking it was the robber's getaway vehicle.

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