San Jose mass shooting: Victims ID'd after deadly attack at VTA light railyard

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Friday, May 28, 2021
San Jose mass shooting: Victims ID'd after deadly attack
Officials have started to release more information about the victims of the deadly shooting at the VTA railyard in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Nine people were killed in the mass shooting at the VTA rail yard in San Jose Wednesday, all of them employees of the transit agency. We're learning more about the victims Thursday from the loved ones and coworkers they left behind.

The ninth shooting victim died in the hospital around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

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"We are all grieving," said VTA board chair Glenn Hendricks, before paying tribute to each of the victims at a press conference Thursday.

Taptejdeep Singh, 36

Singh lived in Union City with his wife and two kids. He started at VTA in 2014 as a bus operator trainee and later became a light rail operator. He is being hailed as a hero for helping coworkers hide during the shooting.

Lars Lane, 63

Lane had worked at VTA since 2001. He worked as an electro-mechanic and then became an overhead line worker.

His wife, Vicki, said they were set to celebrate his birthday this weekend.

"He was my soulmate. He was my total soulmate. Love of my life. He was a wonderful person. I'm going to miss him. I miss him now. So much. This just doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem real at all," she said.

The couple had been married for over two decades and had plans to retire next year. Lane leaves behind four children and many memories.

"Just remember his sense of humor. His love for his friends and his family. Everybody respected him. He was extremely smart. He was an intelligent man. If he didn't know how to do something he can figure it out," she said.

Michael Rudometkin, 40

San Jose councilmember Raul Peralez identified his longtime friend Michael Rudometkin as one of the victims of Wednesday's shooting. He started at VTA in 2013 as a mechanic. He later became an electro-mechanic and eventually an overhead line worker.

"Personally my heart is broken and honestly it's going to take a lot of time not for me, but for all of us, to be able to heal," Peralez said.

Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63

Alaghmandan worked for VTA for 20 years as a substation maintainer.

Alex Ward Fritch, 49

Fritch was rushed to the hospital in critical condition after the mass shooting at the VTA rail yard, but died Wednesday night as a result of his injuries. He worked as a substation maintainer for VTA.

Fritch was remembered as a regular at Alameda's Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge. "Alex's laughter and jovial spirit would fill that corner of the bar and within minutes of their arrival a group would form around them, lapping up his energy and anecdotes. Alex was literally the life of the party and his sheer presence will be missed by all," said an employee on Facebook.

Paul Delacruz Megia, 42

Megia started work at VTA in 2002. He worked his way up to the role of assistant superintendent of service management. He was described by Naunihal Singh, superintendent of the light rail yard, as "always willing to help his employees."

"Sometimes my demands could be unreasonable," said Singh. "But Paul always accepted with a smile."

Lorenzo Rodriguez had been friends with Megia for 15 years. He said Megia loved his family and had a passion for the outdoors.

"This whole thing is a nightmare. I was kind of hoping that at least he would call me back or text but that never happened," said Rodriguez.

"I just want people to remember him as a very good guy, a good man. He has a big heart."

Adrian Balleza, 29

Less than a mile away from the site of the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting, lived 29-year-old Adrian Balleza. He was a father, husband, loved one and friend.

Balleza's neighbor, Beatrice Trotter, said she texted him after learning the news of the shooting, with no response. Balleza, his wife and his child visited the Trotter household often throughout their year-plus of living in the neighborhood for chats and a swim in the pool.

"I know that he was a Christian guy," Trotter said. "He loved his family, he loved his community and he was a people person. He loved his job and he loved meeting the people on the bus and just taking care of his customers. Whether it was just having conversations or providing support, mental health support to his riders. My heart goes out to his family and all the victims' families. Just know God and know that he left this earth being a good person."

Balleza started as a bus operator trainee in 2014. He later worked as maintenance worker and light rail operator.

Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35

Hernandez III started at VTA in 2012 as a transit mechanic. He later became an electro-mechanic and substation maintainer.

"A wonderful young man really willing to help everybody or anybody and really full of life, enjoyed life," recalled his father. He was visiting relatives in Mexico when he heard the news.

"I started calling people and calling people, my wife... the sheriff's department confirmed that he was gone, yeah," said Jose Dejesus Hernandez II.

Timothy Romo, 49

Romo worked as an overhead line worker for VTA for more than 20 years. Neighbors told ABC7 News that Romo recently became a grandparent and that he was always very friendly with his neighbors.

"He'd had that voice, that big voice, you could always hear him, you know, Oh, Tim's home," recalled Jay Martin. He said they would chat about their shared interest in motorhomes and that Romo was looking forward to spending time with his family.

"We'd talk about places we been and that we want to go. and see around here.You know he was always very outgoing."

Working Partnerships USA has set up a fund to help support the victims and their families of this tragic event. Head to this link to find out more information on how to donate.