About 200 people gathered in a Catholic church in Sunnyvale Thursday to attend a solemn funeral mass for Anthony Garcia, the 17-year-old who died when a vehicle collided with his bicycle in San Jose on Dec. 3.
The Rev. Martin Abrego presided over the service at St. Martin Parish in front of Garcia's silver-colored casket on which he helped place a white shroud with a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
"This is not a very pleasant moment and we understand this is very difficult for the family," Abrego said looking toward Garcia's family members in the front pew. "That's why we are here."
"It's not easy to say goodbye to such a young life," he said.
Garcia, of San Jose, was struck by a vehicle on Dec. 3 as he rode his bicycle near the corner of Vista Park Drive and Branham Lane shortly before 7 p.m. He died soon afterwards at a hospital.
The driver of the vehicle, who is not being identified, cooperated with San Jose police and has not been charged in the accident, police said.
The nearly 1-hour traditional Catholic service for the boy inside the high-ceiling church included a mass conducted in English and Spanish, a quote from the New Testament, communion and a group that sang Spanish-language folk and religious songs.
Pallbearers, some of them teenagers as Garcia was, wheeled the casket into the church past a wreath with red carnations fashioned into a large heart next an oversized color photo of Garcia.
Abrego, wearing a flowing white robe and standing in the middle aisle at the front of church, blessed the casket with holy water before the white cloth was draped over it.
During the service, he marveled at the audience of about 200 people, including many who appeared to be in their teens.
"We don't usually have this big a crowd here," he told the assemblage. "May the lord welcome him to a place at the heavenly banquet."
After the service, the casket was transported in a black Cadillac hearse for burial later today at the Oak Hill Memorial at 300 Curtner Ave. in San Jose.
Jacob Reyes, 22, a San Jose resident who was a close friend of the teen, described him while standing outside the church after the mass.
"He was the happiest kid, I never saw him in a bad mood," Reyes said. "He had a passion for life. He was definitely a leader. He was very artistic: music, drawing, whatever he did turned to gold."
Garcia's cousins Lorena Martin, 35, and Desiree Interiano, 33, both of Santa Clara, also recalled Garcia's artistic bent.
"He was a dancer," Martin said with a smile. "He liked music. He liked to spray graffiti. He was loving, really loving, always smiling."
"Always happy," Interiano said.
To mark the one year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took the lives of 20 children and six adult, gun violence prevention advocates throughout the greater Bay Area are gathering and remembering the over 30,000 people killed by guns since December 14, 2012.
California Chapters of the Brady Campaign -- along with their partners -- are holding events on Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14. The events are free and open to the public.
Friday, December 13th
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. • Vigil at SF City Hall Steps with speakers including Mayor Ed Lee, Senator Leland Yee, other public officials, law enforcement, victims, survivors
Saturday, December 14th
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. • Gun buyback at Alive & Free Omega Boys Club, 1060 Tennessee Street
12 p.m. • Youth march beginning at Gene Friend Rec Center, 270 6th Street; march ends at UN Plaza
2 p.m. • Rally at SF UN Plaza (Market between 7th & 8th) with speakers including Congresswoman Jackie Speier, community leaders, victims and survivors
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. • Gun buyback at Youth Uprising, 8711 Mac Arthur Blvd.
9:30 a.m. • Interfaith vigil at Mission San Jose Church, 43300 Mission
9:34 a.m. • Bell ringing in remembrance at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, 600 Columbia Drive
9:34 a.m. • Bell ringing in remembrance at Congregational Church of San Mateo, 225 Tilton Ave.
9:34 a.m. • Moment of silent remembrance at Island United Church, 1130 Balclutha Dr.
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Gun buyback at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 2020 E. San Antonio Avenue
9:15 a.m. • Bell ringing and gathering in remembrance at the Little Old Church, 21800 Bertram Road
1 p.m. • Memorial at St. Cyprian Church, 1133 W. Washington Ave. with speakers including Mayor Tony Spitaleri, Congressman Mike Honda, Cindy Chavez and Anna Song
The executive director of the Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation, the organization behind the wildly successful "Batkid" event last month, has hit a $50,000 fundraising goal, triggering a matching donation from San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain.
Cain and his wife, Chelsea, pledged to give $50,000 to the organization after seeing the smiles Miles Scott, a 5-year-old boy from Tulelake, Calif., brought to the faces of so many people during his stint as "Batkid" on Nov. 15.
Miles, who is recovering from leukemia, spent the day fighting villains and foiling crimes at staged events all over the city through Make-A-Wish, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses.
Cain announced earlier this week that he would donate $50,000 if Bay Area executive director Patricia Wilson raised the same amount by Wednesday evening.
Make-A-Wish spokeswoman Jen Wilson said the executive director reached that threshold at 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, and as of this morning had raised more than $61,500.
Cain's matching donation is part of the organization's annual Brave the Bay fundraising drive, centered around an event at Aquatic Park in which police officers jump into the frigid waters of the Bay.
The event took place last weekend, and Wilson joined San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr and other officers in braving the chilly waters.
Fundraising for Brave the Bay continues until the end of December. Anyone who wants to donate is asked to visit www.bravethebay.org.
Vallejo police have identified the victims of the city's two most recent homicides, which happened within hours of each other on Tuesday.
Police also are asking the public to come forward with any information that leads to the arrests of suspects in the cases.
Frank Gore, 27, of Vallejo, was shot around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the rear parking lot of House of Soul Recordings at 777 Tuolumne St. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gore's death marked the city's 24th homicide of the year and the fourth in six days, according to police.
Around 3:40 p.m. Tuesday, Anthony Young, 27, of Vallejo, was fatally shot in the parking lot of King's Market at 1624 Fairgrounds Drive.
Police said four law enforcement agencies had to respond in order to contain a large and hostile crowd that gathered at the scene.
Police Capt. Jim O'Connell said Thursday morning that it is not yet known whether the two murders are related. He said the community's help is crucial in cases like these.
"This is a community crisis, not a police crisis," O'Connell said regarding the spate of homicides.
"Our detective and staff are working around the clock to solve them. It's critically important that people come forward. We need help to solve these," O'Connell said.
Five detectives, a detective sergeant and crime scene investigation support staff are working on the homicides, O'Connell said.
"They're doing phenomenal work with the staff we have and the workload," O'Connell said.
"Not every case can be solved with forensic evidence. We know there are people who have personal knowledge of the suspects, who drove them away or confided with them," O'Connell said.
In a separate killing on Friday, police said, 34-year-old Esohe Izevbigie, of Oakland, died at a rap concert when she and another woman were caught in the crossfire of a shooting in the south parking lot of Dan Foley Park. The shooting happened just before midnight, police said.
Izevbigie and her friend were attending a concert by rapper "Lil Scrappy," police said. Izevbigie's friend was treated at a hospital and released.
Multiple vehicles also were struck by gunfire, but the women were unintended targets, police said.
Vallejo police Lt. Kevin Bartlett said different-caliber bullets were found at the scene, indicating that there were multiple shooters.
One of the shooters was described as a black man wearing a tan shirt. He remains at large.
Lil Scrappy is known for his role on the VH1 reality show, "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta."
U.N inspectors said Thursday that chemical weapons were probably used in four locations in Syria this year in addition to the confirmed attack near Damascus in August.
The report by U.N. chemical weapons experts, led by Swedish professor Ake Sellstrom, examined seven alleged chemical weapons attacks and said it lacked information to corroborate the allegations at two locations. The inspectors' limited mandate barred them from identifying whether the government or opposition fighters were responsible for any of the attacks.
Sellstrom issued an initial report on Sept. 16 which concluded that evidence collected in the Ghouta area of Damascus following an Aug. 21 attack provided "clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used." Graphic video footage showed dozens of people gasping for air and bodies lined up.
Thursday's report said evidence indicated chemical weapons were probably used in Khan al Assal outside Aleppo, Jobar in Damascus' eastern suburbs, Saraqueb near Idlib in the northwest, and Ashrafiah Sahnaya in the Damascus countryside.
The confirmed use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, and the threat of possible U.S. military action, led to a U.S.-Russian agreement to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons by mid-2014. The process of getting Syrian chemicals that can be used to make weapons out of the country is currently underway.
The experts said they collected "credible information that corroborates the allegations that chemical weapons were used in Khan al Assal on March 19, 2013 against soldiers and civilians." But the report said the release of chemical weapons at the site couldn't be independently verified because it lacked "primary information" on how the chemical agents were delivered and because environmental and medical samples weren't scientifically collected, preserved and analyzed.
The U.N. mission said it collected evidence "consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons in Jobar on Aug. 24, 2013 on a relatively small scale against soldiers." But it said it lacked information on the delivery system and the chain of custody for samples, and said therefore it could not "establish the link between the victims, the alleged event and the alleged site."
At Saraqueb, the inspectors said they collected evidence "that suggests that chemical weapons were used ... on April 29, 2013 on a small scale, also against civilians." Again, they said they lacked information on the delivery system and the chain of custody for environmental samples and therefore couldn't link the event, the site "and the deceased woman."
The U.N. mission said it collected evidence "that suggests that chemical weapons were used in Ashrafia Sahnaya on Aug. 25, 2013 on a small scale against soldiers." But it said it lacked primary information on delivery systems and said samples collected by the U.N. experts one week and one month after the alleged incident tested negative.
The report says the U.N. investigative team was unable to make on-site visits to almost all of the sites where chemical weapons allegedly were used, mostly because of poor security conditions. Of the seven sites in the final report, the team did visit Ghouta and Jobar, but it found the Jobar site "corrupted by mine-clearing activities."
Sellstrom handed his final report on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The report was then sent to members of the U.N. Security Council. Ban said he would address the 193-member General Assembly on Friday and the council on Monday about the report's findings.