Nine men have been identified as the victims killed in a mass shooting at a San Jose light rail yard on May 26, 2021, in California. The victims all worked for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. They were shot dead when a co-worker opened fire during an early morning union meeting, authorities say. The victims range in age from 29 to 63. They were identified by the Santa Clara coroner’s office on May 27.
The VTA said in a statement, “We now have the names of the victims from Wednesday’s tragic attack at the Guadalupe Light Rail Yard. We do not have the words to express the weight of this moment. We are grateful to our community for their love and support as we mourn the loss of nine victims of the horrific event of Wednesday, May 26, 2021.”
At a press conference, officials displayed a poster board with photos of the nine victims and the words #VTAFamily. The VTA added, “Their families have been notified and are being provided with every resource we have available. A vigil is being planned for May 27 at 6 p.m. at San Jose City Hall Plaza at 200 East Santa Clara Street.”
“Many of these folks worked here for 20, 30 years, so yes, we do become a family,” George Sandoval, the VTA’s light rail maintenance operations manager, said at the press conference. “Our staff respond to emergencies on the rail and there’s a bond.”
VTA General manager and CEO Evelynn Tran said, “We get up every morning safe in the belief that when we go to work, that we would come home to our family and our loved ones. That did not happen for Abdolvahab, Adrian, Alex, Jose, Lars, Michael, Paul, Taptejdeep and Timothy. Some of us get training on what to do when there is an active shooter event. But not about the aftermath.”
A fund has been established to help the families of the victims.
The gunman was identified by police as 57-year-old Samuel Cassidy. These are the victims of the San Jose mass shooting:
Paul Delacruz Megia, 42
Paul Megia was an assistant transportation superintendent for the Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority, according to his LinkedIn profile. He had worked for the VTA in that position since 2012. According to KCRA, he started his career with the VTA as a bus operator trainee in 2002 and later worked as a light rail operator, transportation supervisor and transit division supervisor.
According to his family, Megia is survived by his wife and three children. They were planning to take a family trip to Disneyland the weekend after the shooting, his parents told KCRA. He and his family moved to the U.S. from the Philippines when he was a toddler, according to the news station.
His wife, Nicole, said in a statement, “Paul was a wonderful husband and father who was full of love, jokes, energy for life and always up for new adventures. I treasure all of our memories. God took you too soon and I would do anything to have one last hug and goodbye. I will miss having my best friend by my side. I love you always.”
Taptejdeep Singh, 36
Taptejdeep Singh, known as Taptej Singh, was killed while telling his co-workers to hide, the San Jose Mercury News reports. He is survived by his wife and their two young children.
His uncle, Sakhwant Dhillon, told the newspaper, “We are in very deep grief. He told people, ‘be careful, hide.’ He was running around the building to save others’ lives. He was a good person. He helped everybody.”
His brother told the Mercury News Singh was a hero, and said he “put a lady in a control room to hide. He saved her and rushed down the stairway. He should have saved his life, too. We lost a good person.”
Adrian Balleza, 29
Adrian Balleza was married and is survived by his wife and young their son, according to her Facebook page. He began his career as a bus operator trainee in 2014 and was later a light rail operator and maintenance worker, according to the VTA.
Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35
Jose Dejesus Hernandez III began working at the VTA in 2012 as a transit mechanic, according to the county agency. He later worked as a electro-mechanic and then a substation maintainer.
Sarah Raelyn, his ex-wife, told NBC News that he was a calm and level-headed person who spent his life “worshipping the Lord and just helping people.” She said despite their divorce in 2020 after more than 10 years of marriage, he remained “like best friends” with her younger brother.
“He was the most loving, romantic and giving man that I have ever known,” she told NBC News. “I’m at a loss for words.”
Timothy Michael Romo, 49
Timothy Romo worked as an overhead line worker and had been a VTA employee for more than 20 years, according to the agency. He was a native of Greenfield, California.
“We lost a Greenfield native in the San Jose shooting!! Timothy Michael Romo was 49. His father was an officer in greenfield and his mother worked in our school cafeterias. Good family!! My hearts go out to them and all others affected!! It’s just so senseless,” Dee Hackman wrote on the People of Greenfield Facebook page. “Here’s what Margaret Salvagno wrote: Timothy Romo is the son of Mike and Reggie Romo. This is so tragic. Mike was Greenfield police chief for several years and Reggie was the GUSD cafeteria manager. I just confirmed this with his family.”
Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40
Michael Rudometkin worked as an overhead line worker after previously working as a mechanic and electrical mechanic during his time with the VTA, the agency said. He began working there in 2013.
Rudometkin’s mother, Rose issued a statement to KRON saying, “It is with heavy hearts that we lost our son to a ruthless disgruntled employee of VTA. Our son was attending a union meeting at the time this occurred. He was very passionate about his union affiliation. He had just turned 40 and still had more to live and accomplished. He has always been a wonderful son, brother, loving husband, uncle, cousin and friend to many. He would give his last penny and shirt off his back. Anyone could call him for help and he’d be there.
Rose Rudometkin added, “He attended Cupertino schools, was a Youth Minister and Pastoral Council member at Queen of Apostles Church in San Jose, CA. Michael graduated from Evergreen CollegeCum Laude and became one of the youngest Auto master technicians. He enjoyed sports of all kinds, golf enthusiast, cars, working at home, and the Russian River.”
A friend, Raul Peralez, wrote on Facebook, “My dad and I were just planning another golf day reunion with Mikey, and now that will never happen again. My family and I have lost a long time great friend and there are no words to describe the heartache we are feeling right now, especially for his family. Eight families are feeling this same sense of loss tonight and our entire community is mourning as well. It has been personally tough to find the right words and I will be spending some much needed time amongst family and friends tonight. Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out and offered your thoughts and support.”
Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63
Abdolvahab Alaghmandan worked for 20 years at the VTA and was a substation maintainer, according to the agency. He was an immigrant from Iran, his son’s girlfriend told The New York Times.
“He moved his family to the United States so that they could have a better life, which makes this horrific tragedy just all the worse,” Megan Staker told the newspaper. “He worked so hard so that his family could have a good life. He was so funny, and kind and loving, and could fix anything. Things will never be the same without him. He brought so much joy and laughter to our lives. To say he will be missed is an understatement. Our hearts are forever broken.”
Lars Kepler Lane, 63
Lars Lane began working for the VTA in 2001 and was an electro-mechanic and overhead line worker during his career, the agency said. His family told Fox 40 he was a husband, father and grandfather, who is survived by his three children along with his wife.
Alex Ward Fritch, 49
Alex Fritch worked as a substation maintainer, according to the VTA. His wife told KTVU he was her “rock.” Fritch died at a San Jose hospital in her arms, she told the news station.
“Alex was everything to this family,” Tara Fritch told KTVU. “He was our rock. My safe place to fall. He was the love of my life.” She and her husband were supposed to renew their vows in Hawaii in September, she told the news station.
“We got to say goodbyes,” she said. “He was fighting hard.”