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San Jose Community Mourns 9 Killed In Rail Yard Shooting

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

More than a thousand people attended a vigil in San Jose last night. They were there to honor the nine people killed in a mass shooting this week at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard. From member station KQED, Julie Chang has more.

JULIE CHANG, BYLINE: Throughout the vigil, one message stayed constant.

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SAM LICCARDO: We will heal, and we'll heal together.

CHANG: That was San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who, along with transit union officials and community and faith leaders, addressed the tragedy that rattled the city.

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LICCARDO: Healing for many will be a long, difficult path. We're here to express our commitment to one another.

CHANG: Victims' family members took the stage to share a few words about their lost loved ones. Timothy Romo was 49 years old when he was killed Wednesday. His daughter Audrey said he was the smartest and funniest person she knew.

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AUDREY: All my friends loved being around him. Almost every time I talked to my dad, he'd always say, who's my favorite little girl? And I would always respond, I'm your only little girl.

(LAUGHTER)

AUDREY: I'm going to miss him every day.

CHANG: Paul Delacruz Megia (ph) was 42 when he was killed Wednesday. His wife, Nicole, said he was a great friend, son and mentor to many.

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NICOLE: He was so proud of being an employee at VTA and all the accomplishments he made here.

CHANG: Taptejdeep Singh was 36 years old when he was killed in Wednesday's attack. His younger brother Karmen Singh said his sibling was always looking out for others.

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KARMEN SINGH: When he heard the shots, when he saw that everybody's life in danger, his first reaction was to tell other people, hey, run to safety. And that's who he was. That's how he lived his whole life - is helping others.

CHANG: San Jose resident Elizabeth Whitfield said she didn't know any of the victims but came out to pay her respects.

ELIZABETH WHITFIELD: And because I want a sense of community, I want the families to feel like they have support behind them and that we care because it matters and because I don't know what else to do, to be honest with you. Feels really powerless when this kind of thing happens.

CHANG: South Bay Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said it's painful that San Jose has joined the hundreds of other communities that have suffered from a mass shooting and that the VTA yard will forever be remembered as a site of tragedy.

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ZOE LOFGREN: The VTA literally connects our community. It connects us. And yesterday, that connection was shaken to its core.

CHANG: Lofgren said the community is giving support to grieving families but emphasized that thoughts and prayers are not enough and called for a recommitment to ending the epidemic of gun violence.

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UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Amazing grace...

CHANG: For NPR News, I'm Julie Chang in San Jose.

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UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) ...How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.