At vigil for a girl killed in Gilroy, news of another shooting compounds the anguish

Family and friends gather to participate in a vigil honoring Keyla Salazar, a 13-year-old girl killed in the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in Northern California on July 28.
(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

The family of Keyla Salazar, the 13-year-old girl who was shot and killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last week, has always loved the United States, they said.

But recently, their lives have changed drastically.

“This country has been good to us, but since the current president took office, everything has changed,” said Keyla’s mother, Lorena Pimentel de Salazar, 35, in a recent interview.


On Saturday, she gathered alongside the rest of her family at a vigil in San Jose to honor Keyla on the same day that 20 people were killed by a gunman at a Walmart in El Paso, and hours before nine others were slain by a gunman in Dayton, Ohio.

The vigil was held at Latino College Preparatory Academy, the school were Keyla was set to attend high school this fall. Community members wore “I love Keyla” T-shirts as they recalled stories of her kindness and love next to pictures, flowers and candles the family had brought from their home, just a mile away.

Katiuska Pimentel, Keyla’s aunt, was infuriated by the news from El Paso.

At a vigil in San Jose, Elena Guerrero, standing, tries to comfort Lorena Pimentel de Salazar, 35, mother of Keyla Salazar, the 13-year-old killed in the Gilroy, Calif., shooting.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times )

“Now this happened at a Walmart, and it’s like, where can we feel safe?” Pimentel, 24, said. “We are looking for justice and we feel their pain.”

The family had not been looking at the news much as they welcomed visitors who brought condolences to their home and planned funeral arrangements.

But when Keyla’s mother saw what had happened in El Paso, she became extremely agitated, shaking her head and muttering “hasta cuando, hasta cuando” — “until when, until when” — then throwing her phone face down, said Salazar’s cousin, Hans Bludau, and his wife.


Bludau, 54, was also in shock. “I couldn’t believe it, another attack,” he said at the vigil, shaking his head while holding on to his walker. “When is this going to stop?”

Friends and family at the vigil held candles in paper cups. About 60 people faced Keyla’s mother, surrounding her.

Salazar is from Peru and has been in the United States for almost 20 years.

Lorena Pimentel de Salazar, 35, middle, along with family and friends participated in a vigil honoring her daughter, Keyla Salazar.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

“There is a lot of discrimination, [but] when Obama was president there wasn’t as much of this,” she said in Spanish. “There is so much pain.”

When a family friend asked for a moment of silence for the victims of El Paso, Salazar held up her candle a little bit higher, closer to the sky, shutting her eyes tightly.