VTA shooting victims, local leaders unite to support gun control legislation

The families and friends of the nine Valley Transit Authority workers who were killed on May 26th are, along with local elected officials, turning their pain into purpose.

On Friday evening in Union City, a few dozen people, most of them friends and family members of the nine people killed at the VTA's San Jose rail yard three weeks ago, gathered to honor the memory of their loved ones and consider meaningful actions that can prevent future mass shootings.

"It's a call to action it's not just a remembrance," U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell, one of the first to speak at an outdoor podium at Charles F. Kennedy Park, said. "It's a call to make sure we're all safe."

Other speakers who offered words of support and calls for gun control measures included the mayors of Union City, Hayward, and Fremont, along with Senator Bob Wieckowski, several Bay Area county supervisors, and Nancy Pelosi's daughter, Christina Pelosi.

"Say that assault rifles are too dangerous to have in our communities," Swalwell said, noting that such a law faces challenges without bipartisan support in the Senate. 

"We can protect the second amendment but also protect life, I don't think it has to be mutually exclusive," Swalwell said.

On a local level, Barbara Halliday, mayor of Hayward, suggested bringing more resources to mental health access and treatment, "because that is often the source of tragedies that have happened in our communities," Halliday said.

Friday's gathering was the first time families of the VTA shooting victims and local leaders could safely meet face-to-face since California eased its COVID-19 restrictions. 

One reason the gathering was held in Union City was to honorTaptejdeep Singh, a Union City resident who was one of the nine VTA workers killed.

His brother said he wants his brother's legacy to be about building a better community.

"Spread the love. that's what my brother would want," Karman Singh said/ Spread love. Spread hope. Try to bring everyone together."