(SAN JOSE, Calif.) — Nine employees were slain at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard in California on Wednesday, marking the latest mass shooting in America.
The suspect, also a VTA employee, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Everyone who was shot died from their injuries.
“Many of these folks worked here for 20, 30 years, so yes, we do become a family,” VTA light rail maintenance operations manager George Sandoval said at a news conference Thursday. “Our staff respond to emergencies on the rail and there’s a bond.”
Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63
Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, who went by Abdi, was a substation maintainer who worked at the VTA for about two decades, according to the company.
The husband and father of two was “a gentle soul who loves everyone,” his son, Soheil, told The Mercury News.
“He worked overtime, he worked through the entire pandemic,” Soheil said. “He’s a tinkerer. He can fix anything.”
Adrian Balleza, 29
Adrian Balleza started at the Valley Transit Authority in 2014 and most recently worked as a maintenance worker and light rail operator, the VTA said.
Balleza leaves behind a wife and young son.
The San Jose native loved football and was a captain on his high school team, his cousin told ABC News.
Alex Ward Fritch, 49
Alex Fritch, a substation maintainer, was the final victim of the massacre, dying hours later in a hospital.
“We got to say goodbyes,” his wife, Tara Fritch, told KTVU.
He leaves behind a daughter, two sons and his wife of 20 years.
“Alex was everything to this family,” Tara Fritch told KTVU. “He was our rock.”
Jose Hernandez III, 35
Jose Hernandez was a substation maintainer who worked at VTA since 2012.
His father recalled him as a “wonderful young man.”
“Willing to help anybody, and really full of life and enjoying life,” Jose Hernandez II told San Francisco ABC station KGO Thursday.
Lars Kepler Lane, 63
Lars Lane had worked at VTA since 2001.
Vicki Lane, his wife of 22 years, said he was a “very loving person” with “a great sense of humor.”
“He was my soulmate, he was my total soulmate, the love of my life,” Lane told KGO through tears. “He was a wonderful person, and I miss him, I miss him now … so much. This just doesn’t seem real, it doesn’t seem real at all.”
The father, husband and grandfather died three days before his 64th birthday, reported KTXL.
While waiting for the victims’ names to be released, Lane’s brother, Edward Lane, told KTXL, “It’s horrible … not knowing is horrific.”
Paul Delacruz Megia, 42
Paul Megia started at VTA in 2002 and most recently worked as an assistant superintendent.
VTA light rail transportation superintendent Nauni Singh said at a news conference, “Sometimes my demands could be unreasonable but Paul always accepted with a smile. Always willing to help.”
Megia loved his family and had a passion for the outdoors, his good friend, Lorenzo Rodriguez, told KGO.
“I just want people to remember him as a good guy, good man,” Rodriguez told the station. “He has a big heart.”
Rodriguez had been friends with Megia for 15 years.
“This whole thing’s a nightmare,” Rodriguez said, choking up. “I was kind of hoping he would at least call me back or text, but that never happened.”
Timothy Michael Romo, 49
Power foreman Timothy Romo, an Air Force veteran, spent over 22 years with the VTA, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“My dad was the smartest and funniest man I know,” his daughter, Audrey, said at a Thursday vigil, according to KGO.
Romo’s son, Scott, added, “He was my hero and my idol — everything I ever wanted to be as a man. And he led by example in everything he did.”
Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40
Michael Rudometkin worked at VTA since 2013.
Rudometkin was a “lifelong” friend of San Jose City council member Raul Peralez.
“My heart is broken,” Peralez said at a Thursday news conference.
“I unfortunately get to know personally how these nine families have felt … with just a sense of disbelief. With a hope that your loved one is still gonna come home. And knowing that’s just never going to happen again,” he said. “It has been painstaking and heartbreaking.”
Taptejdeep Singh, 36
Light rail operator Taptejdeep Singh leaves behind his wife and a 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter.
“We are beyond devastated by the loss of Taptejdeep, a beloved father, husband, brother, son, and nephew,” his brother, Karman Singh, said in a statement. “Taptejdeep spent his final moments trying to keep others safe. From what we have heard, he reacted quickly to get colleagues into secure offices, and was frantically calling others who would have been coming in for a shift change to warn them about the shooter. We understand that he was attempting to secure his building when he was killed.”
He went on, “Even in these moments of chaos, Taptejdeep was living by the values of Sikhi: living in service and protection of others. We believe that if the shooter had ever asked our brother for help, Taptejdeep would have gone above and beyond for him like he did for everyone he crossed paths with; he never harmed anyone, and no one who knew him would ever want to harm him. We choose to remember Taptejdeep as the hero he was, both in those final moments and throughout his life of service.”
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