'He wasn't supposed to die': VTA mass shooting victim came to US for better life, nephew says

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ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Monday, June 7, 2021
VTA shooting victim came to US for better life, nephew says
Nearly two weeks since the VTA mass shooting in San Jose, the family of victim Abdi Alaghmandan is still trying to process his loss.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Nearly two weeks since the VTA mass shooting in San Jose, the family of victim Abdi Alaghmandan is still trying to process his loss. The 63-year-old father of two was one of the nine colleagues shot and killed in the mass shooting at the Valley Transportation Authority rail yard on May 26th.

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Alaghmandan's nephew, Siavash Alaghmandan Motlagh, told ABC7 News he "can't sleep at night" as he tries to grapple with knowing he'll never see his uncle again. He said Alaghmandan immigrated to the U.S. after fleeing Iran during the revolution, and was a beacon of pride for their family.

"What happened to him, he didn't deserve it," Motlagh, 29, said through tears. "He wasn't the person who was there to have an easy time. He worked really hard."

Motlagh, who lives in Vienna, said he had heard about the shooting but assumed his uncle was safe. When he learned his uncle was, in fact, among the victims he was shocked and devastated. "What are the chances it would be my uncle?" he said.

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On Instagram, Motlagh shared his favorite memory with his "Amoo Abdi": A photo of them together at the lighthouse in Half Moon Bay.

"To me that trip there was so significant because I was like, 'Damn, this is it! This is like the end game!'" Motlagh recalled of that trip, his first to the U.S.

In the post he wrote: "It's such a symbolic moment for me because lighthouses are a beacon of hope. They are there to let people know that they have reached land and safety. I remember thinking here I am with my Amoo, who made it to the promised land and here we are at a lighthouse."

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But now Motlagh is finding it hard to square that feeling of hope and opportunity with the reality of his uncle's fate.

"To see someone try so hard and this is their fate in the country that claims to be the greatest country in the world," he said. "It just breaks my heart. Doesn't make any sense to me."

"He did everything that your democratically elected government had made it possible for him to do. He was there serving the community that had accepted him and he delivered his end of the bargain," he continued. "And the community, in my opinion, betrayed him in that he couldn't protect him."

Alaghmandan, who lived in Castro Valley, left behind his wife and two adult children. Motlagh said Alaghmandan's brother, who is an Iranian national, was not able to get a visa to attend the funeral.

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"After all these years of not being able to visit him, he couldn't even go to his funeral," Motlagh said of his father. "He applied for a visa...but we never heard back."

Motlagh said it is yet another reminder of the sacrifices his uncle made in order to move to the U.S. in the hopes of building a better life.

"He got away!" Motlagh exclaimed of him leaving Iran. "He wasn't supposed to die. He was one of the ones who was supposed to be safe."

On Instagram, Motalgh said he understands why people want to own guns but that "I just don't quite understand how the right to bare arms, has to equate to every lunatic having easy of access to weapons."

"I don't understand out of all the terrible people in the world my poor uncle had to have this fate," he added. "I don't understand why, even when people escape the Islamic Republic if Iran, death follows them. There are many things I don't understand."

Motlagh said his uncle was the sweetest person with a sassy and witty personality.

He said his uncle and his eight other colleagues did not deserve to die this way.

"I'm mourning the fact that in this world, no matter where you come from, and no matter how hard you try, you don't know what's going to happen to you tomorrow," Motlaugh said. "And even world powers like America can't guarantee that for you."

Take a look at the latest stories and videos about the mass shooting at the VTA rail yard in San Jose.