GILROY (KPIX 5) — A 13-year-old girl killed during a shooting spree at the Gilroy Garlic Festival was remembered by her grieving parents Monday as a someone who overcome being bullied and “never lost her joy and happiness for life.”
As they were preparing for the young girl’s funeral, the parents of Keyla Salazar released a public statement though the Diocese of San Jose.
“Despite being a victim of bullying, she never lost her joy and happiness for life,” the parents wrote. “She never gave up and continued to strive to achieve her academic goals. She was a girl who loved science and technology, creating ingenious videos, making everyone laugh.”
Keyla’s smile brought much joy to her family and those around her.
“Her tender smile and charismatic personality conquered everyone’s heart,” the parents wrote. “Her intelligence, her strength, her tenacity motivated everyone to move forward. She was a happy and resilient girl.”
She also loved her many pets.
“Keyla had many talents included infinite creativity, and a pure love of animals, caring for and feeding with dedication her dogs “Lucky” and “Cinnamon”, her guinea pig “Albert”, rabbit “Miss Jackson” and cat “Rosie,” her parents wrote.
Keyla was fascinated with animation and hoped to make it her future profession.
“Her greatest hope was to pursue a career in animation, designing and creating characters and stories,” the statement read.
Her family said she will never be forgotten.
“Keylita was very loved by everyone and will always be in our hearts for her pure and beautiful life teachings that she left us,” her parents wrote. “Guardian Angel KEYLA SALAZAR her presence and her love will transcend in all of us.”
On Sunday, emotional memorial was held for the teen on what would have been her 14th birthday.
A large gathering was held at a park in San Jose with mariachis and a piñata. While there was fun, there were also many tears. During last Sunday’s shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Salazar was with family. When gunshots rang out, she stayed behind to help a relative who used a cane. She was killed shortly after that.
Salazar’s mourning family said they wanted to follow through with the plans for her would-be birthday, which turned into a memorial for the young lady, who was about to enter high school.
Her family released butterflies in her memory.
On top of the personal pain, her family says they are also reeling from the news of two other mass shootings in other parts of America–Ohio early Sunday morning and Texas on Saturday.
“It’s really hard. And I feel like as we’re healing and hearing of the news, it’s like, re-traumatizing, too,” said Katiuska Pimentel, Salazar’s aunt.
“It’s just devastating. Why do we have to lose someone so adorable and caring and so important to the community? You know, you’re harming people who are innocent, who have nothing to do with you and your pain, and why you would do that?”