Family's homicide drives Indianapolis man to open alarm company
The air is thick with smoke and the bar almost filled to capacity. Armando Perez holds the weight of his saxophone and blows out a solo that makes the crowd scream and sway. The fast pace of the jazz beat keeps the crowd entertained while Perez grabs a glass of water and checks his phone, noticing a stream of missed calls from his cousin. He doesn’t want to step out of the gig that feels like the highest point in his career, but senses it must be important if the calls keep coming. He puts down his sax, not realizing that will be the last time he plays a professional gig.
The call Perez receives that July in 2004 at LuLus in Castleton still haunts him today. The caller tells Perez his aunt and uncle, whom he felt close to, have been murdered in their Fountain Square home and they have no idea who’s responsible. Overwhelmed with agonizing grief, he leaves everything on the stage and heads toward the house.
The memories of those first few days are hard for Perez to talk about, even years later. His aunt and uncle only lived in the country for a few months before the tragedy, having left Cuba for the freedom and safety the United States represented. Perez, who worked as a salesperson at a national alarm company during the day, had suggested his uncle get a home alarm after a teenager broke in a week prior to their deaths. “He laughed me out of the room,” Perez says. “He survived Cuba. He wasn’t worried about his life or property like he was before moving to the States.”
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When the 15 year old broke in again, seeking more stuff to sell, police say he stabbed the couple to death. According to court records, the teen was later arrested and a jury found him guilty of the double homicide. He is now serving a 120-year sentence.
Perez says the tragedy made him look at things with a new perspective. “It made him keenly aware that life is precious, and he felt called to prevent such a senseless tragedy from happening to others,” says Perez’s wife Monica whom he married a few years after the murders.
Perez admits he didn’t feel he fulfilled his new purpose in life with the company he worked for, so he started his own company, highly rated Hoosier Security in 2009, near downtown Indianapolis. He vowed to change the alarm industry and save it from the deficiencies he saw. “The alarm industry I was in, was not about protecting you, it was about selling you,” he says. “It was a one size fits all approach.
Member Andrew Huehls, of Meridian Kessler, easily spotted what made Hoosier Security stand out. Of the four companies that provided him with estimates, three required long-term contracts, and only one let Huehls view the contract before making a decision. “The terms were so unacceptable,” he says.
Hoosier Security didn’t offer the same $99 introductory rate as other companies, but Huehls liked that Perez didn’t push a long-term contract and lets customers discontinue service without penalty. “Armando genuinely cared about securing my home and family, not just making money,” Huehls says.
Huehls purchased an upgraded alarm system with window and door sensors, day and night cameras, motion detectors and a monitored smoke alarm for $2,800. The system lets him arm and disarm from his mobile devices and receive a video verification if the sensors detect movement, which helps the monitoring tech and Huehls decide whether or not to dispatch police.
Despite Hoosier Security’s expansion to nearly a dozen dedicated employees, Perez still receives an alert whenever one of his client’s alarms goes off. “If it’s a false alarm, I want to make sure we determine the cause and fix it,” he says. “I’ll never let the company get big enough that I lose that personal touch.”
Today, Perez lives a life much different from that of his childhood. His Cuban family immigrated to the states in the 60s and his parents raised him in Miami. He developed his love of jazz and Latin music there, but when Hurricane Andrew hit the coast in 1994, his school music program suffered a complete devastation, along with his community that struggled to rebuild in the aftermath.
Perez moved with his father to Indianapolis then and played sax in high school and at Indiana University, where he earned his bachelor of arts in Latin American music. He’s performed at the Jazz Kitchen, Chatterbox and the Indy Jazz Fest. He says he hasn’t played professionally since that night at LuLus, but still plays at home for his family.
Perez and his wife have three daughters. “There is the why and for whom you do this work,” he says. “The why is obvious from my story; the who is for my girls.”