UNION CITY, Calif. - Residents in Union City gathered for a memorial on Sunday to remember the two boys who were recently gunned down.
Several dozen people gathered on the grounds of Searles Elementary School to mark the spot where an 11- and 14 year-old - only identified as Sean and Kevin - were shot and killed inside a van in the school's parking lot on Saturday morning. Union City police said callers to 911 reported hearing gunfire in the area of Sherman Drive and Colgate Drive at 1:26 a.m. When officers arrived, authorities said, they found two boys shot in the parking lot. The older boy died at the scene, and the younger child died en route to a trauma center.
"Who would ever expect to see boys, children of that age, in such a terrible situation?" asked Lenora Matthews, an administrator at Searles Elementary.
The gathering, organized by a coalition of groups, gave the people of Union City's Decoto area an opportunity to begin the healing process together.
"The community is hurting right now, just asking why? How?" said Jaime Patino, a Union City Councilmember.
"I have grandsons who are exactly the same age and the thought of losing one of them is just so extremely painful," said Mary Schlarb with Congregations Organizing for Renewal. "My heart breaks for the mother, for the parents, the sister, the whole family."
A woman -- only identifiying herself as a probation officer who lives in the community -- implored the crowd to take charge and not rely on government to solve community problems, and urged kids to stay focused on school rather than the streets.
"Government can provide programs, but raising a child starts at home. I'm a single father myself and it starts at home," said Patino.
There are many questions surrounding why the young boys were out in a van so late at night, and who would want to take their lives.
A repeated message to the crowd was -- anyone with information needs to come forward and tell police.
"We need to catch these people that did this because someone else, someone else's kid could be at risk now," said Patino.
Family members, friends, and neighbors of the 11- and 14-year-old boys came to the Searles Elementary School. Nov. 24, 2019
People came to pay respects in front of a makeshift memorial of flowers and prayer candles, for two boys killed in Union City. Nov. 24, 2019
A sign to "Kevin," one of the two boys killed in Union City. Nov. 24, 2019