After praying, embracing and singing at a vigil honoring the victims of a tragic family murder-suicide last weekend in Paradise Hills, the community joined hands and marched as one as a show of strength against the threat of violence.
Police say an ongoing domestic dispute led Jose José Valdivia, 31, to shoot his estranged wife Sabrina Rosario, 29, and their sons Zeth Valdivia, 11, Ezekiel Valdivia, 9, Zuriel Valdivia, 5, Enzi Valdivia, 3, and then himself on Nov. 16.
Ezekiel is the only survivor, but remains on life support.
Musicians with guitars and instruments singing songs of peace and happiness provided the soundtrack to Friday night’s tribute at United Church of Christ Paradise Hills. Others lit candles and gathered around pictures of the family.
After helping each other heal through joint prayer and warm embrace, vigil attendees went on the offensive to denounce hate and violence tearing apart families in their neighborhood and across the nation.
Led by 17-year-old Itzell Mendoza, the mass of people donning white silently walked the streets of their community making sure all who looked would see their message: No more violence.
Mendoza said she organized the walk because she was sick and tired after seeing senseless violence, like the deadly shooting at Church’s Chicken in Otay Mesa, the school shooting in Santa Clarita, and last Saturday’s tragedy just blocks away from her home.
“The ones that impacted me most are the ones in my community, just blocks away from my house,” she said. “It's just too much. It's happening too often,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza said the murder-suicide last weekend happened only blocks away.
“Lives are being taken, innocent lives being taken. It’s children from small ages, adults, all ages. It’s just not fair for innocent peoples, lives being taken in any way," she said.
Rosario's brother-in-;aw attended teh vigil. He spoke to NBC 7 and wanted to remind his community there is a lesson in the terrible tragedy.
"Looking back at what I have seen and gotten pieces of, I wish I had paid more attention to it and I think that would be the message I want to relay. Pay more attention to what is really going on inside someone else's shoes," he said.