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Families at San José shooting vigil mourn lost lives

The voice of Paul Delacruz Megia’s father cleared up as he shared the joy of working alongside his son at the Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose.

Megia joined the agency in the early 2000s to be able to pay for her college education, her father said. He was made redundant after a few months but decided to come back a few years later to start a career there.

“We really enjoyed seeing each other because he would be on the light rail and I would be on the bus,” recalls his father, describing how they waved to each other. “It was a happy time.”

He paused, his tone suddenly filled with grief.

“But yesterday was the saddest moment of my life.”

On Thursday evening, hundreds of people gathered outside San Jose City Hall to honor the nine people killed on Wednesday when a gunman opened fire on the streetcar station.

All were long-time employees of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, aged 29 to 63.

San José Mayor Sam Liccardo read their names, stopping seconds before each. He explained that healing would be a long and difficult journey for many.

“We are here to share our pain, we are here to share our love, to share our support for one another,” he said. “We are here to express a unique message in our community: we will heal, and we will heal together. “

At a press briefing earlier today, board members and VTA officials shared their shock and sadness over the shooting, which has been described as a workplace conflict. .

“Words are not enough to justify the pain we are going through,” said the VTA light rail superintendent. said Naunihal Singh. “I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m at a loss for words. At the same time, I’m trying to find reasons.

He said it showed the character of his colleagues who had tried to save other people during the attack. The family of one victim, Taptejdeep Singh, said he helped his colleagues go into hiding before he was shot.

San Jose City Councilor Raul Peralez spoke as a VTA board member and friend of one of the victims.

“Personally, my heart is broken,” Peralez said. “And honestly, it’s going to take a long time – not for me, but for all of us – to be able to heal. “

Victim assistance funds have been set up through United States Labor Partnership and the Amalgamated Transport Union.

During the evening vigil, religious leaders and elected officials who spoke offered words of prayer and sympathy, but the grief over the tragedy was most visible when family members of the victims took to the stage.

Liccardo read a statement from the family of Adrian Balleza, 29, who left behind a 2-year-old son. The family said Balleza’s proudest moment was becoming a father.

“It breaks my heart that he can’t see him grow up, take him fishing or his first football game,” they said. “He still had so much life and things he wanted to do, and he was loved by so many people.”

Karman Singh recalled how his brother, Taptejdeep, 36, joked that he looked younger than Singh, despite being six years older.

He often came to Taptejdeep for help, said Singh, describing how his brother “protected me from the responsibilities of this world.”

Whatever problems he found himself in, “he was my first call,” Singh said.

Taptejdeep extended this kindness to those he didn’t know as well, like Singh’s friends and colleagues.

“No matter when I called, who I called for, he never asked a question,” Singh said. “He asked, ‘Hey, what’s the matter? I will help them.

Other families described similarly close relationships with loved ones they lost.

Audrey, the daughter of Timothy Michael Romo, 49, said her father often called her her “favorite little girl,” to which she playfully replied, “I’m your only little girl.”

Romo’s son Scott said his father had been “everything I ever wanted to be as a man”.

“Not a second or a day goes by that I don’t want to call him to ask him how to do something or fix something around my house or get my truck back on track,” he said.

“He was my superman and I will never miss him.”

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