Prayer Vigil at City Hall Honors San Jose Victims of Violence and Their Families

As about 300 community members gathered on Monday, August 27, at the San Jose City Hall plaza to honor victims of violence, families and friends held up photos, told stories of how their loved ones died and prayed that other families would be spared their pain and loss.

Emily Holquin with photo of grandson David.

Emily Holguin held a photo of her grandson, David Holguin, who was killed on October 29. Kari Johnson carried a picture of her nephew, Michael Russell, who was shot Nov. 10, in his backyard. Monica Mendoza cried for her brother, Victor, who was killed in a drive-by shooting on August 13. And Connie Ortiz grieved for her grandson, Armando Miguel Heredia, who was fatally shot just four days ago while walking home from a store.

“I don’t know what’s going on here,” she said to the crowd as tears streamed down her face. “But this has got to stop.”

Pastor Sonny Lara

The prayer vigil organized by Linda and Sonny Lara, pastors of the Star of David Ministry was a call for action not just to the public officials who addressed the vigil participants but for all San Jose residents.

“It’s you that’s going to make a difference,” said Lara, who for decades has dedicated his ministry to keeping youth out of trouble. “We’re not here to judge. We’re here to make a difference.”

Kari Johnson with photos of nephew Michael Russell

Mayor Chuck Reed, Police Chief Chris Moore and San Jose City Councilmembers Sam Liccardo, Ash Kalra and Xavier Campos delivered messages of hope and called on the community to come together in these difficult times.

“We’ve suffered through a lot of pain in recent weeks,” Liccardo said. “I see a lot of pain here, but there also is a lot of love. You’re all here because you love your community.”

Prayer vigil participants form a large circle at City Hall.

Kari Johnson said she came to the vigil disappointed because the trial of the suspects in her nephew’s death was again delayed. It has been nearly three years since he was killed.

“The only thing I can do for him now is to help others who have lost loved ones,” she said.

For Emily Holguin, the evening was emotional.

Families display photos of victims of violence.

“It just brings back memories,” she said as the crowd moved to form a large circle in the City Hall plaza. “He was going to school, he was working,” she said of her grandson, David. “He had just made his confirmation in church.”

Monica Mendoza clutched the photo of her brother, Victor, tightly to her chest. He was only 21 when he died two days after being hit by gunshots coming from a passing car.

“I don’t wish this on any family,” she said.