A Salinas pastor was stabbed to death Tuesday night while praying with one of his parishioners, police say.
Victory Outreach Church pastor Herbert Valero, 68, was slain outside his home on the 1500 block of Verona Court just before 8 p.m., Salinas Police Department Sgt. Christopher Lane said.
A member of Victory Outreach Church, Servando Ayala Silva, stabbed Valero in the neck, Lane said.
“Pastor Herb met one of his parishioners, 37-year-old Servando Ayala Silva, outside of (his house). Pastor Herb told his family he was going to be outside praying with Silva. A few minutes later, Pastor Herb ran into the house holding his neck. He stated Silva had stabbed him,” Lane said.
Family members called 911 as Silva fled in a white pickup truck. Valero died at the scene.
At 9:45 p.m., Salinas police received a 911 call from Silva’s family that he had returned to his house. Officers arrived and took Silva into custody. He was booked into the Monterey County Jail on charges of first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and probation violation. His bail was set at $1 million.
The motive for the deadly stabbing is unknown, Lane said.
Police Cmdr. Stan Cooper said the murder weapon was a small drywall saw.
For years, the pastor worked with church members who were battling addictions, living in the streets, and youth at-risk.
The pastor was close friends with Salinas City Council member Tony Barrera.
Barrera said Valero spent last weekend volunteering at Closter Park spreading fresh dirt on a softball field.
Valero’s biggest focus was on children, especially making sure they had enough food to not go hungry, Barrera said.
“Pastor Herb was a servant of the community, he dedicated his life to God. He was determined to make somebody’s life a little bit better. He was able to minister broken men and women. He would go into the prisons, Chinatown, he would go everywhere,” Barrera said. “Herb is not going to leave a void, he is going to leave a legacy.”
AMY LARSON and BIANCA BELTRAN