GILROY, Calif. - An emotional vigil was held in the South Bay on Wednesday for pregnant 19-year-old Tatyanna Lopez, who was killed two weeks before her expected delivery date, in Merced back in April.
Authorities have a suspect, but so far, he has not been caught. Family and friends gathered at a cemetery in Gilroy on what would have been her 20th birthday.
Loved ones of Tatyanna Lopez did not plan to celebrate her 20th birthday at Gavilan Hills Memorial Park in Gilroy, where she is buried.
"She was my best friend," said Victoria Hogue, Tatyanna’s mother. "She was my firstborn. She was my everything. She was my baby love I called her."
It’s not just Tatyanna’s life they’re mourning but Tatyanna’s unborn child named Ayanna. Tatyanna was eight months pregnant, about to give birth, when a night back in April took her dream of being a first time mom and Tatyanna’s mother’s dream of holding her first granddaughter, violently away.
"My son and daughter planned on raising their kids together," said Hogue. "I have a grandson but I don’t have my granddaughter."
Police said on April 18, 19-year-old Jonathan Dorado of Los Banos shot and killed a pregnant Tatyanna outside a home in Merced.
"She was just an innocent bystander, wrong place, wrong time," said Hogue.
Tatyanna’s boyfriend was also shot. He survived. Tatyanna was hit in the abdomen. The baby could not be saved.
"I was robbed of watching my daughter deliver her first baby, watching her turn 20, all the things you wait for as a mom with your first child," said Hogue.
Tatyanna, known for her big eyes and infectious smile, was the oldest of six siblings. She grew up in Gilroy and was living in Los Banos at the time of the shooting.
"Tatyanna was a person I could go to on a bad day," said Tatyanna’s friend Krysta Ballard.
Ballard had a baby on the way too. She envisioned their children growing up together
"We need to find justice for Tatyanna and Ayanna because they don't have their voice so we need to scream for justice."
The family released lanterns as a way to show Tatyanna will never be forgotten and their quest to find her accused killer will not stop.
"I want my daughter back and I just want anyone that knows where he’s at to turn him in," said Hogue.
The family believes the suspect Jonathan Dorado may be hiding in Southern California. They got a tip as recent as three weeks ago he was spotted in Oregon. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Merced Police Department at (209) 385-4725. They accept anonymous tips.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.