Vigil for mass shooting victims held in Pinole

The St. Joseph Church community in Pinole hosted a vigil Monday night to honor the victims in El Paso, Dayton and Gilroy.

The event was organized by Father Geoffrey Baraan, the church's pastor. A total of 150 parishioners came together to find comfort and search for answers during this difficult time. 

The vigil opened with song on the steps at the front of the church. 

"Our voice must  be louder, my friends, than the sound of  gun violence," Baraan said as he addressed the crowd. 

Candles were lit and a gong sounded for each person killed.    

"I'm very disturbed, concerned, saddened that this is happening," said Myrtle Dawana of Hercules.   

Those emotions were coupled with fear, bewilderment and anger among the parishioners. 
Some  say the pain over the senseless loss of lives, especially  children and young people, is difficult to fathom. 

"You don't have the right to take someone's life, someone you don't even know.  They haven't  even developed into the persons they'll be in this life," said Manuel Williams of San Pablo. 
Congregation members say the shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and the El Paso Walmart are places where families frequent and hit too close to home. .

"It's very disturbing because now we have to question, are we safe to go to these events.  Are we safe on the street," said Dewana, the mother of three. 
Some families tell us they have second thoughts about going to places where there are large crowds.

"Even here in the church, that one Sunday, that's my fear, that someone will be shooting at us," Baraan said.  

"It shouldn't take a tragedy to come together as one," said Pinole Police Chief Neil Gang as he addressed parishioners. 

He reassured the community that he and his department will do all they can to serve and protect. 
"You will have a police department that is ready to take action and ready to put themselves on the line for our community," said Gang.  

Congregation members called for change, demanding that this country's leaders take action to stop the violence. 

"When is this going to stop? Why are we doing this to each other? We're one person. We are all human beings," said Mercedes Fraga of Pinole. 

The pastor says he will be working with the police chief to implement new security measures including training church staff members   how to respond to a mass shooting.  A necessary step, he says,  because there is no place that's sacred and  off-limits when it comes to gun violence.