SAN JOSE, California — Keyla Salazar’s family had planned to celebrate her birthday with a trip to a lake, but two days after she would have turned 14, instead they will say their final goodbyes after the middle-schooler was killed in a mass shooting at a California food festival.
A funeral Mass for the teen will be held Tuesday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Jose, and then she will be buried in nearby Palo Alto in a private ceremony.
It’s the first memorial service of the three people killed when Santino William Legan cut through a fence and opened fire on July 28 at the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival. Legan also killed 6-year-old Stephen Romero of San Jose and Trevor Irby, 25, of Romulus, New York. More than a dozen people were injured.
Legan, 19, killed himself after officers shot him multiple times, officials said. Authorities have not determined his motive for the attack that came the weekend before a shooting in Texas and another in Ohio left a combined 31 people dead.
Keyla would have turned 14 on Sunday and the family had planned to go to a lake and celebrate, her aunt Katiuska Pimentel said. Instead, her family gathered to celebrate her life at a San Jose park, about 30 miles north of Gilroy, where they showcased artwork by the girl with a sweet smile who dreamed of becoming an animator.
They served tacos, listened to a mariachi band and helped plant flowers to honor Keyla’s memory.
The day of the shooting, the teenager was eating ice cream with her mother, stepfather, two younger sisters and other family members when they heard what they thought were fireworks. Then they realized they were gunshots, said her stepfather, Eduardo Lopez.
The family started to run away, but Keyla stayed back to help a relative who used a cane. When Lopez turned around, he said he saw Keyla fall and thought she was taking cover. When he went back to help her get up, he said he was shot in the arm.
“It’s been very hard losing her, especially for her mother. She hasn’t felt well,” Lopez said Monday.
Pimentel, Keyla’s aunt, described the teenager as a hardworking student who loved drawing and video games.
She loved animals and was planning on getting a puppy for one of her sisters, Pimentel said. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who attended Sunday’s celebration, promised the family a golden retriever.
“She was such a caring person,” Pimentel said. “She would give everything to other people … We lost a really beautiful life.”
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