Vigil held for two victims of Oakland gun violence

September 3, 2011 12:53:20 AM PDT
A vigil was held Friday night in Oakland united two families whose lives have been forever altered by violence. The Navas lost their 3-year-old son, Carlos, in a gang shooting in early August and just weeks later, a 6-year-old boy watched his father, Jose Esparza, get gunned down by robbers.

Tears, screams, and prayers accompanied the vigil and memorial for Carlos and Jose.

Esparza's son, 6-year-old Jose Esparza Jr., placed a candle at the memorial. A week ago he watched as his father was gunned down last Sunday. His mother, Julia Carrillo, says he's in shock.

"He acts like he doesn't understand what happened. He's in denial, but everything is recorded inside him," said Carrillo.

Carlos' father arrived at the memorial, but he declined an interview. A crowd of about 100 family, neighbors, and friends came to the El Pueblo market at the corner of 103 Avenue and International Boulevard. That is where 39-year-old Esparza was shot to death during an attempted robbery just after he cashed his check in the market.

Monsignor Antonio Valdivia says he's been saying funerals lately for children he once baptized.

"I had a mass of the little boy, Nava, 3 years old, two weeks ago. Last week, I had a funeral of Jesus, a young man 21," said Valdivia.

Now he led the memorial for Esparza. Margarita Gonzales is godmother to Esparza's oldest son. She says the entire extended family is reeling.

"It's very sad. Especially watching my godson, he's seeing a psychologist, but the youngest he still doesn't know what he's lost," said Gonzales.

Oakland police have arrested two suspects in the Nava drive-by shooting which they say was gang related. It happened on 95 Avenue just down the street. So far the gunmen who killed Esparza are still at large.

Organizers of Friday's memorial say they're going to hold a vigil on the anniversary of Jose Esparza's and Carlos Nava's death, just so that the community doesn't forget.

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