Pain and anguish were felt Thursday as the Bay Area honored the victims killed one year ago during the mass shooting at a Valley Transportation Authority rail yard in San Jose.
VTA employees gathered at the yard in a private ceremony to pay tribute to the workers killed. A public memorial to remember the victims and honor their families also took place, during which Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen presented medals to the first responders of the shooting, and some city and county leaders delivered remarks.
Nine people were killed in the shooting on May 26, 2021.
The victims, many of them longtime employees of the transit agency, were Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63, and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.
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The gunman also died at the scene.
Karrey Benbow, the mother of victim Jose Hernandez III, delivered a powerful speech, recalling her final moments with her son and saying he won't be forgotten.
"We had lunch," Benbow said. "We took a ride on his motorcycle. I spent six hours with my son, not to know that that was the last time I was going to hug and kiss him goodbye."
Benbow said time is not her friend. She gets by day by day, moment by moment, the pain still too much to handle.
"I will cheer him on and continue to be his biggest fan for as long as I am here," she said. "I would have given anything to take those bullets for him."
Benbow said the shooting was preventable and that someone should have read the signs.
"There were too many red flags that they didn’t pay attention to," she said.
Several families are now suing VTA.
On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council declared a Day of Remembrance for the victims.
This month, VTA demolished Building B where many of the victims died, so employees would never have to go back there.
During Thursday's public memorial, VTA union president John Courtney recalled the moment he fled from the room in Building B where the shooter already had killed multiple co-workers, saying "as I was getting away from a place of such horror, there were some real heroes running into that place."
Rosen took time Thursday to praise the paramedics, firefighters, deputies and police officers who ran to help.
"Let’s never let heroism be humdrum," he said.