The only child to survive a San Diego murder-suicide that claimed the lives of his parents and his three brothers has died, according to a family member.
Nine-year-old Ezekiel Valdivia had been hospitalized and on life support at Rady Children’s Hospital since the Nov. 16 shooting. He was pronounced dead Saturday at 11:23 p.m., said Karl Albright, the boy’s uncle.
Police say 31-year-old Jose Valdivia shot his estranged wife, Sabrina Rosario, 29, and their sons — Zeth Valdivia, 11; Zuriel Valdivia, 5; Enzi Valdivia, 3; and Ezekiel — before turning the gun on himself. Only Ezekiel had survived the attack at the family’s home in the southeastern San Diego community of Paradise Hills.
Hundreds of mourners gathered for a candlelight vigil for the family Friday night and implored community members to speak out against domestic violence.
At the gathering at Paradise Hills United Church of Christ, family members called Sabrina Rosario a “wonderful, charismatic, bright shining star” and a caring mother, and a teacher remembered the Valdivia boys for their bright smiles. The three oldest boys attended Paradise Hills Elementary School.
“Big smiles on their face in the morning at my running program, they were the first ones out there,” Craig Volimas, a physical education teacher, told the crowd. “They were a light for me every single day.”
Albright, who is married to Rosario’s sister, said the couple’s difficulties began about a year ago, after Valdivia cheated on his wife for the second time. Albright said Rosario and Valdivia had been married more than a decade, and Rosario worked to shield the children from their struggles.
The couple separated in December, and Rosario filed for divorce in June. She had sought and obtained a restraining order against her husband the day before the killings, according to police and court records.
Rosario said Valdivia had refused to leave her alone after she filed for divorce and had become obsessed with the idea that she was with someone new.
Rosario said Valdivia called her repeatedly and showed up at her house unannounced. She endured months of harassing text messages, including one that included a photo of a handgun with beer cans and a bottle of alcohol in the background, according to court documents.
In court documents, she talked of being frightened: “This threat really scared me and I can no longer handle his abuse and harassment,” she said.
The morning of the shooting, police received a 911 call and could hear an argument in the background. A second 911 call came soon after, made by a relative who lives next door, who reported hearing what sounded like a nail gun being fired.
When police arrived, officers spotted a bleeding child in the house and broke a front window to get inside. The parents and their youngest child died at the scene, while the other boys were rushed to a hospital.
Those close to Valdivia had told reporters they were shocked to learn about the threatening messages he’d sent his estranged wife and didn’t know him to carry a gun.
The family created a GoFundMe account in the aftermath of the shooting to raise money for medical expenses and funeral costs; as of Sunday afternoon, donors had pledged more than $55,000.
Kucher writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.