EXCLUSIVE: Teen killed at Gilroy house party was protecting a friend, parent says

Tuesday, November 2, 2021
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The teen victim's brother says a fight broke out and 18-year-old Michael Daniel Zuniga ran to break it up when a bullet hit him in the neck area.

GILROY, Calif. (KGO) -- We are learning more details about the fatal Halloween weekend shooting in Gilroy.

On Monday, the City of Gilroy released information about the four victims. The teen who was shot and killed was identified as Michael Daniel Zuniga-Macias, 18.

An update from the City reported two other victims are still in the hospital, and a fourth was treated for injuries and later released.

Investigators believe there were at least two shooting suspects. Gilroy identified Benjamin David Calderon, 19, as one of them. Calderon is the second cousin of Councilmember Armendariz.

Calderon was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail for homicide.

VIDEO: At least 2 suspects in Gilroy house party shooting, investigators say

The parent of 18-year-old Michael Daniel Zuniga who was killed at the party spoke exclusively to ABC7 News reporter Luz Pena.

"I love you. He said I love you grandma. I love you too mijo. That is what they said to me. I love you grandma... that's was it. That was the last thing I said to him," said Petra Macias about the last words she said to Michael.

Petra opened her home to speak about Michael. Her grandson who she raised.

Luz Pena: "How do you want Michael to be remembered?"

Petra Macias: "As a happy kid. He was always smiling. He always wanted everyone to be in peace."

VIDEO: Teen arrested in fatal Gilroy house party shooting is council member's cousin

The last time she saw Michael alive was Friday night when she dropped him off with his brother at a convenience store. She didn't know they were going to a Halloween party.

"They had other plans that we didn't know about. They are young men. They want to have fun," said Macias.

Hours later Michael was shot. His 17-year-old brother was screaming for help as Michael bled in his arms gasping for air.

"They left him there cold by himself. They lied to us. They told us he was at the hospital but he was there by himself. He died on scene. They let him die on scene. They didn't help his other brother. He was yelling for help and he was still alive," said Macias.

His brother Jeremiah said a fight broke out and Michael ran to break it up when a bullet hit him in the neck area.

"Michael just wanted to defend his friend. That is why he lost his life. He wanted to do the peace and he got in the way. He is a brave boy. He lost his life. He is a brave boy. He loved his friends like brothers too," said Macias and added, "He was a brave boy. He didn't have to go like that. He was a brave boy. He was trying to do something good. He needed someone to help him and nobody helped him. For his good decision nobody helped him."

As she holds on to memories of Michael she's asking for two things.

"All I want is justice for him. Some respect for him," said Macias and added, "Why did those kids take those guns there? This is what it's about. It has to stop. Where are they getting them from? Who is giving them the guns? That has to stop."

What's giving this family peace is a rare coincidence. 12 years ago on the same day Michael was killed, his great grandfather died.

"My dad, he went on the same day my dad passed away. I don't know if he took him because he was suffering because no one was helping him. He probably took him," said Macias.

Candles and quiet moments marked a vigil for the 18-year-old. On Monday, dozens stopped by the site where Zuniga was shot and killed. Flowers and balloons were left for the "brave boy," who family members say ran to break up a fight.

At Monday night's Gilroy City Council meeting, Armendariz's seat was empty. However, she was at home and there as the vigil grew just outside the property.

Armendariz declined an interview and wouldn't take our questions.

The Zuniga family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses. You can donate here.