San Jose, CA - Family and friends of a South Bay woman gunned down earlier in the week gathered at the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose Friday for a candlelight vigil in her honor.
They identified the victim as Stacy Stevens Mendez and said the Rose Garden was her favorite park in Santa Clara County.
"She gave her last. She helped everybody. She opened up her heart, her doors. Just tied to help somebody," said friend Corinna Lomelin.
She had a 25-year friendship with Mendez. Lomeline, Mendez, and a third woman, Misha Jones, all met in the early 2000s while all three were serving time together at Elmwood Women’s Correctional Facility in Milpitas.
Once on the outside, the trio straightened up their lives, which is why both women said Monday’s crime was so vexing.
Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety investigators said they received a call of shots fired in the 1700 block of Karameos Drive. Arriving officers found two women shot in a car in the driveway of the home. The 43-year-old Mendez was killed.
The second victim, whose identity hasn’t been released, gave detectives information that led them on a chase of a suspect. Police identified that suspect as 68-year-old Marvin Churchill, a Sunnyvale resident.
That chase ended with Churchill taking his own life in the 17000 block Stevens Canyon Road in Cupertino – which police said is a wooded, mountainous, area.
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What sparked the shooting is still under investigation.
"Stacy had just left my house and went to the young lady’s house. And from there, I don’t know what happened, but I know this. It wasn’t Stacy's drama. For Stacy to get shot like that, the way she did in her face and all that, I’m not gonna understand that. I don’t. Because I’ve known her too long for her to get into an altercation, let alone and argument," said Lomeline.
Added Misha Jones, "She put other people before herself all the time. She’d short herself some somebody else could win pretty much. Like she was just a good person. Just an overall good person."
Sunnyvale police said they have bits and pieces of clues but are still trying to figure out a motive. They said the suspect and victims knew each other, but the exact nature of their relationship is unknown, as is the reason behind the two women driving from San Jose to Sunnyvale early Monday morning.
Attendees at the evening vigil were asked to wear pink, which friends said, was Stacy’s favorite color.
Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv