SAN DIEGO - A Valley ASU student and veteran Marine is joining the fight to get fellow Marine and close friend Andrew Tahmooressi released from a Mexican prison.
The two Marines became friends while serving in Afghanistan.
“Our bond was built in a war zone, in combat, where things were really occurring,” said Lopez who recently found out about Tahmooressi’s arrest.
Lopez is helping Tahmooressi’s mother in her plight to get 100,000 petition signatures requesting White House officials to intervene. That’s over 5,000 signatures a day over the next three weeks.
“I just want to bring my son home,” Jill Tahmooressi told ABC15 in a Skype interview.
Tahmooressi said her son had recently moved to San Diego to get post-traumatic stress syndrome therapy.
On March 31, Andrew took a wrong turn and missed the last U.S. exit, forcing him into a line of cars preparing to cross the border at Tijuana, Mexico.
With nowhere to make a U-turn, Tahmooressi called his mother.
“He was talking to me on the cell phone, he said 'Mom the officials are here, they've circled the truck, they're going to search the truck. I've got all my stuff in the truck.' So I knew what all my stuff in the truck meant,” Jill Tahmooressi recalled.
Tahmooressi had several legally registered guns in his truck. His mother said he tried to explain to Mexican border officials he just needed to make a U-turn.
“He's a very squared-away person and if he says it was a mistake I believe it was a mistake,” said Lopez.
But Mexican police weren’t convinced and arrested the 25-year-old Marine veteran.
For the past month, Jill, along with State Department officials, has tried to secure his release from La Mesa Penitentiary in Tijuana.
Mexican officials have until May 28 to respond, but Jill worries whether her son will make it through May.
She has already received chilling and desperate phone calls from him, describing inmate threats against him.
“He said ‘Mom, I'm not going to make it through the night. There's people in here that are going to kill me.’ In his words, ‘rape, torture and murder me and then put me in a body bag,’” stressed Jill.
Jill Tahmooressi would later learn her son used his survival skills to scale a prison wall and escape that portion of the prison. He was found in another area of the La Mesa Penitentiary.
“It does kind of worry me and it's like what are they doing to my friend,” said Lopez.
On April 14, the State Department was able to safely get Jill into Mexico for a short 10 minute visit with her son.
Jill said her son had both his hands and feet shackled, but she was able to hug him and assure him she and others were battling for his release.