San Jose mourns victims of gunfire: “Healing will be a long and difficult road” | San jose
In downtown San Jose, in the crowded City Hall Square, hundreds of grieving families, local residents and Bay Area Light Rail workers laid flowers in front of nine framed images .
It was a scene erected to honor those killed at a rail maintenance yard on Wednesday, the worst mass shooting in Bay Area history.
At a vigil in San Jose Thursday night, uniformed union members hugged and cried on their shoulders. Some distributed T-shirts featuring the faces of those who had been shot. A single candle was lit as each name was read by the mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo.
“We are here because our colleagues, family members and friends are suffering,” Liccardo said, addressing a gathered crowd of several hundred people. “Healing for many will be a long and difficult road. We are here to express our commitment to walk with our desperate family on this long journey.
John Costa, the president of the union to which the slain railway workers belonged, offered words to remember the victims: Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35 years old; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63, Lars Kepler Lane, 63; and Alex Ward Fritch, 49.
“I want to send a message that we must honor our brothers today and not forget what happened here,” Costa said.
The shooting took place on Wednesday when a 57-year-old employee of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) entered a facility and opened fire, killing nine of his colleagues.
Law enforcement officials described the shooter, identified as Samuel Cassidy, as a “very disgruntled” employee, while Cassidy’s ex-wife spoke of a history of mental health and violent behavior.
Costa responded to the need to have honest conversations about mental health and well-being among workers. “We cannot sweep this under the rug. We need to do the right thing, talk about it and recognize this mental illness and worker violence. We can do better than that! “
The crowd was dotted with people holding framed photos as silent tears and soft sniffles spilled into the sea of mourners. The families of Singh, Delacruz Megia and Romo each addressed the public in Town Hall Square, expressing their love for their deceased fathers, sons and brothers.
Delacruz Megia’s father Leonard Megia worked for VTA for 20 years and smiled through teary eyes as he remembered the precious moments he and his son, who started working for the transport agency full time in 2012, would greet them as they passed. the others on their respective routes.
“Yesterday was the saddest moment of my life so far. We really enjoyed seeing each other. I would be on the streetcar and he would be on the bus. I will miss him so much, ”said Megia.
The 10 dead, including the gunman, make San Jose the site of the Bay Area’s deadliest mass shooting, overtaking the 1993 massacre at a San Francisco-based law firm. It comes as the region, like many others in the country, has seen an upsurge in gun violence in recent months.
This increase has been particularly troubling in cities like Oakland, which have become national models for effective community gun violence reduction programs. Some of the more recent tragedies include two teenage girls who were shot dead when the party bus they were riding in was ambushed by a hail of bullets. Two days earlier, the lives of two 17-year-old boys had been cut short in a park.
After the shooting, Joe Biden ordered the White House flag lowered to half the baton to mark the loss of life. Dozens of federal, state and local officials tweeted condolences that have become common in the wake of a high-profile mass shooting in this country. Many of these laments also included calls for action by Congress on new gun restrictions.
But for the colleagues and families of the deceased, any form of healing was a long way off. Access to mental health care was a recurring theme in remarks made by union leaders both as a way to prevent future shootings and as an integral part of a family’s healing journey.
“Be there, hold each other, love each other, we are all we have and we are all we need,” said John Courtney, who heads the Workers’ Union. transit, and was at the San Jose facility when the shots started ringing. “These are not just names for us, they are people we know and have seen every day of our professional lives. It touches the hearts of our souls. “