SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - The family of the 13-year-old girl killed during a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival held a vigil at her school Tuesday evening.
The vigil for Keyla Salazar at Ace Empower Academy in San Jose was private.
But before the event, her family spoke publicly about their loss.
"We think it's important that the community knows who Keyla is and how important she is for us," said Katiuska Pimentel, Keyla's aunt.
The family gathered in front of the school where she recently graduated from 8th grade. They came to honor her memory.
They described her as smart, inquisitive and open-hearted.
Keyla's mother, Lorena Pimentel, was visibly shaken as people came to pay tribute.
One friend read a letter to Keyla written by her uncle.
"We will never stop loving you. We will never stop talking to you."
Friends described the close bond that Keyla had with her mother and her two younger sisters.
They say shortly before she was killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Keyla wrote a letter to her mom telling her that she had done all her chores.
In return, she asked her mother to get a puppy that her little sister wanted.
"Just with that, you can tell and express how much this little girl loved and protected her family no matter what," said Amy Bellido, a family friend.
Rosa Rodriguez hoped to comfort Keyla's family with a gift of a poster board with photos.
She also made a T-shirt in honor of Keyla, a symbol of one mother's empathy for another mother coping with the loss of a child.
"My daughter passed away. She passed away. I know how she's feeling now," said Rodriguez.
One man who attended the gathering tells KTVU he doesn't know Keyla's family, but he wanted to show his support.
"I don't want the bad guys to win. I don't want us to continue to live in fear as a society. That's not who we are and how we should live. We got to figure out how to solve this. We can't keep sacrificing our children," said Ron Valenzuela of San Jose.
Keyla's family says they are still trying to make sense of their sudden and senseless loss.
They say they are comforted by the outpouring of support from friends and strangers.
"She was our motivation, and we're in pain that we lost her," said Katiuska Pimental, Keyla's aunt.
Supporters had started a GoFundMe on Monday to help her family with funeral expenses.
Donations have exceeded the goal of $50,000.