‘Light to Her Children’: Family Remembers Mother, Children Killed in Apparent Murder-Suicide

“She was a light to her children, and did not let that darkness hit them,” Karl Albright said. “She was always loving, always caring, always happy.”

Family members gathered outside Rady Children’s Hospital Sunday as 9-year-old Ezekiel Valdivia remained in critical condition following a shooting that took the lives of his siblings, his mother and his father. 

Ezekiel Valdivia is the only family member who survived an apparent case of murder-suicide on Saturday, investigators said.

"We don’t know if God is going to let us be with him or if God is going to take him," said Gloria Collins, the Valdivia boys' maternal grandmother.

The San Diego Police Department said a mother, a father and their four children were found with gunshot wounds in a home on the 2100 block of Flintridge Drive in San Diego’s Paradise Hills community Saturday morning.

Five of the family members died and investigators believe the father shot his family and then himself, SDPD Lt. Matt Dobbs said. 

Family members later identified those who died as parents José Valdivia, 31, and Sabrina Rosario, 29, and their sons Enzi Valdivia, 3, Zuriel Valdivia, 5, and Zeth Valdivia, 11.

NBC 7 spoke with Sabrina Rosario’s brother-in-law, Karl Albright, who said he remembers her as a loving and caring mother.

“She was a light to her children, and did not let that darkness hit them,” Albright said. “She was always loving, always caring, always happy.”

He described what she’d been through and said she had a hard life.

“Living in fear, looking over her shoulder, having this guy stalking her. For the last year she had lived a really hard life, and it’s sad,” Albright said.

Sabrina Rosario's sister, Jocelyn Rosario, told NBC 7 the two parents were high school sweethearts and Sabrina Rosario filed for a divorce that was never finalized. She claimed José Valdivia did not want the divorce and began stalking his wife, telling her he had suicidal thoughts.

He once sent his wife photos of alcohol and a gun, Jocelyn Rosario said, adding Sabrina Rosario was killed in the home she grew up in.

Dobbs said the father was the suspect in this case, and no other suspects were outstanding. The investigation is ongoing, but he said the mother had obtained a restraining order against the father on Friday but it was unclear if that order had been served.

“I wish, I really wish if I would’ve done anything differently, I would’ve taken her out and gotten her, her own [gun] for defense,” Albright said.

Rosario's cousin Raul Torres Rosario wished police would've taken a more active role in protecting the family after the restraining order was requested.

"It should be looked at as more than just a paper, you know. His behavior, how they take it, how they react; their background, if they're violent..." he said. "Even after the restraining order, a cop should be parked in front of the house and see if that guy is mad enough and coming around making threats."

Albright set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral and medical expenses.

“The monetary burden of something like this happening,” Albright said. “If you’d ever have to bury one person you can imagine how much that is. We have to bury four and that’s not including medical expenses for the one that we’re still fighting for.”

Albright said Ezekiel Valdivia is still on life support and in critical condition. He explained he was hit once in the leg and once in the head.

As of Monday evening the GoFundMe page had raised nearly $35,000. 

“The way she raised her children you would never know they were from a bad neighborhood, very polite, never argumentative,” Albright told NBC 7.

Christian, an 8-year-old classmate of Ezekiel's at Paradise Hills Elementary School, said the two have spent countless hours together this school year playing four square and tetherball.

"I went to the counselling center cause I was really sad because he is dying at the hospital and I just am missing him. I am sad right now," he said.

Christian said the counselor took him on a walk, and colored and played with him until he forgot about the sad news.

Parents on campus Monday told NBC 7 they were having trouble explaining the tragedy to their children and answering their questions.

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