Part 2 of a two-part interview. Read our previous interview with Refugio Ocampo here…
Refugio Ocampo blames himself for what happened to his son, Itzcoatl.
“I had to sign the paperwork allowing my son to join the Marines at age 17,” he said. “I didn't want him to go–I wanted him to go to college. But he said that once he turned 18, he'd sign up anyways. So I signed for him to join, but told him he had to take full responsibility for his actions.”
Ocampo would eventually ship out to Iraq, never seeing any combat but returning a scarred man, according to family and friends. They blame that experience for turning Ocampo into the killer of six people in late 2011 and 2012, crimes for which he was awaiting trial for before swallowing Ajax and killing himself over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Refugio has no love lost for the Marines, claiming they didn't help Itzcoatl get the psychological help he needed. Nevertheless, Dad plans to go through with what his son wanted: having his ashes scattered at Camp Pendleton.
“My son put his life on the line for this country,” Refugio told the Weekly. “He went, and he served. And when he needed his country, it abandoned him. Nevertheless, he loved the Marines.”
Previous reports say that Refugio and a neighbor who served in Vietnam urged Itzcoatl to seek psychological care, but that Ocampo refused. Refugio argues that the Marines should've been proactive in treating Ocampo–and that he's not the only veteran who needs help.
“There are more like him out there, but the government will not acknowledge it,” Refugio said, before repeating it. “There's a lot of others but they refuse to help him. To train someone to kill, [the military] needs to disengage them–but the government just throws them back in. They're not taking full responsibility.
“I love this country,” Refugio concluded, “but the people who run it are a bag of mierda.”
And then he dropped this surprise: Itzcoatl's brother, Mixcoatl, is currently in Afghanistan with the Army. He still does not know about Itzcoatl's suicide, according to Ocampo attorney Randy Longwith.
Itzcoatl's body won't be turned over to his family for a while, pending an autopsy and an OC DA investigation. When they finally take possession of their son, they'll have Itzcoatl cremated and drive his remains down to Pendleton to scatter them at the Marine base, saying it was his son's wishes.
“They're not going to let us,” Refugio said, “but we're going to do it.”