Mario Fierro was found by police early Monday morning on a sidewalk in North Park.

A 30-year-old San Diego man was behind bars Tuesday on suspicion of fatally shooting a Cathedral Catholic High School teacher on a North Park sidewalk, police reported.

Jesse Milton Alvarez was arrested without incident Monday night at a Serra Mesa home and was booked into the San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of murder, San Diego Police Lt. Andra Brown said.

Patrol officers responding to reports of gunfire shortly after 7 a.m. Monday found 37-year-old Mario Ferrio mortally wounded on a sidewalk in the 4500 block of Kansas Street. The victim died at the scene.

Authorities have not disclosed a suspected motive for the slaying or the relationship, if any, between Alvarez and Fierro.

Brown said Monday that Fierro was shot after getting into some kind of dispute with his assailant, who drove off to the north in a small older-model vehicle following the gunfire.

Alvarez is being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Feb. 19, according to jail records.

Fierro was a 2002 graduate of the Carmel Valley secondary school where he went on to teach social science, starting in 2016, and also served as a football coach.

“Everyone in our school community mourns his loss,” Diocese of San Diego spokesman Kevin Eckery said Monday. “Mario was young, vibrant and full of life. All of us loved him.”

He said grief counseling would be available for students, faculty and staff. All classes, in person and online, were canceled until Thursday in honor of Fierro.

Late Monday afternoon, the Larry Himmel Neighborhood Foundation announced the creation of a memorial fund to benefit Fierro’s family. Donations may be made online at

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fund had received $40,999 of its $50,000 goal.

The Catholic Community Foundation of San Diego announced Tuesday it set up a scholarship fund to honor Fierro.

“Mario was a gifted and beloved teacher and coach, who put the needs of his friends, family and students above his own,” said Gary Rectenwald, executive director of the CCFSD.  “Creating a new scholarship fund to honor Mario’s life and to celebrate his love for Cathedral Catholic High School is the natural thing to do. This fund will benefit current and future generations of students attending the school.”

To donate, go to

Updated at 4:34 p.m. Feb. 2, 2021

— City News Service

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