Students speak out at Gun Violence Awareness Day vigil

Standing together, some holding hands, others clutching candles, people gathered in front of Daly City's city hall for a vigil Friday night, listening to the names of the 19 young children and two teachers who were shot and killed in Uvalde, Texas last week.

The vigil was held by city leaders because of a student who asked for a way to honor the children killed.

It is a cycle of death that a whole generation of American kids have become used to seeing.

"The shooting at Uvalde just kind of gave me a flashback from ten years ago," said Fernando Montanes, a San Francisco State University student who suggested the vigil to city leaders.

That flashback, Montanes says, took him back to his time in middle school when 20 children and 6 adults were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012.

"A lot of people were saying never again, this will be like, the call to make change," said Montanes.

Then, when Montanes was in high school, 17 students were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018.

"My whole class was traumatized. I remember standing up and walking out with my fellow students from Westmoor High School demanding gun action or gun reform of some sort," said Montanes, "As fellow students, whether or not you're from the Bay Area or you're from across the country, the trauma is still there."

"I would like to see change, like I would like to feel safe at school," said Maleiah Kennan, a Westmoor High School student who attended the vigil.

Many students, shocked by the Uvalde shootings, have questions and want answers.

"How was he able to get a gun and kill so many kids," said Leilani Kennan, a Westmoor High School 2022 graduate, "I want to see action. I don't want to watch the news and see more kids die."

Kennan and other students say action has been promised in the past, but not delivered.

At the vigil, the Daly City Mayor Rod Daus-Magbual called for Congress to come together and do something.

"We're supposed to leave this world a better place for these young people to inherit something that's better for them and I feel like we're failing them by not passing these laws," said Daus-Magbual.

On a local level, San Mateo County is planning a gun buyback on Saturday, June 3rd.

"They'll get $100 whether it's a gun or rifle. If it's an assault rifle, $200 no questions asked," said San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Canepa.

The gun buyback event will be held outside the San Mateo County Superior Court building at 1050 Mission Road, South San Francisco from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Students say they are glad to see some action, and hope to see much more.

"We can do all these walkouts, we can do all these marches, all these vigils, but at the end of the day it's really up to the politicians to actually make their actions count," said Montanes.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or