SAN JOSE (KPIX) — On the Friday after the Bay Area’s deadliest mass shooting, victims’ co-workers, friends and family are weighing in with messages of pain and grief.
Mike Sandez, VTA’s longest-employed bus driver, said he was doing “fine.”READ MORE: COVID Surge: Mask Mandate Returns To Bay Area Businesses With No Limits On Capacity
“Trying to, you know, get over what happened. It was tragic to all of us bus drivers. I’m doing OK but, you know, it hurts us to know that happened to the families. We’re recovering from what happened and (want to) back up all the families if you can. Help out what you can,” Sandez said.
VTA has shut down light rail service and is providing bus bridges until further notice.
Mike Goodner, also a bus driver, said he had a “good cry” this week.
“It’s sad, especially for the families that lost loved ones. It’s pretty sad,” Goodner said.
On Thursday, thousands gathered at San Jose City Hall for a memorial to honor the nine fallen VTA workers.
John Courtney, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 addressed transit workers, many of whom had gathered for the first time since the Wednesday’s massacre at the maintenance yard.
“Be there. Hold each other. Love each other. Hug each other, kiss each other when you get home from work at the end of the day. We’re all we got, we’re all we know, we’re all we need. Please, whatever you need to do, get some support. I know I need it myself. But these aren’t names to us. These are people we know and we love and we’ve seen every single day of our working lives. And it really, really hurts, down to the very core of our souls,” Courtney said.
Gloria Rudometkin, the wife of Michael Rudometkin, released the following statement:
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In an attempt to define Mike’s life, I have found it so very difficult to do without feeling like it is being understated. Michael is the first person I gave my heart to and to have it broken this way is utterly cruel. Mike was a genuinely likeable, nice person. He was there for his friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers day and night with a smile and open heart. He was warm and outgoing, often wandering off to meet new people and always making everyone around him feel like they had known him for years.
They say that opposites attract and that couldn’t be more true for me and Mike. I am the polar opposite to Mike’s outgoing and generous nature, often trying to safeguard him from being taken advantage of. I hope my attempts saved him a little less worry and strain and in exchange he brought me some of the loveliest friends and family who have been carrying me through this senseless tragedy.
I will never understand why such a wonderful and gentle person had to be taken from us in this way. I am heartbroken that I will never hear another one of his bad jokes, receive one of his great bear hugs, celebrate another joint birthday together or be able to give him a hard time about his terrible driving. Mike and I had 19 amazing years together full of adventures. It was not supposed to end this way. I will forever miss Michael with my entire being and grieve this tragedy with our families, friends and community.
Gary and Rose Rudometkin, parents of Michael, also released a statement:
Our hearts are heavy with the loss of our son to this ruthless, senseless massacre. Michael was very passionate about his work with VTA and his involvement with his union, ATU Local 265. He had so much life to live, and dreams and goals to accomplish. He has always been a wonderful loving and caring son, brother to Janelle, loving husband to Gloria, uncle, cousin and friend to so many. Michael was the kind of guy that would give his last penny and shirt off his back. He gave himself selflessly to anyone who needed it before asking for anything for himself. Anyone could call him for help and he’d be there at any hour.
Mike attended Cupertino schools, played in Tri Cities Little League, and was a Youth Minister and Pastoral Council member at Queen of Apostles Church in San Jose. He graduated from Evergreen College Cum Laude and became one of the youngest Auto Master Technicians from their program. He enjoyed spending time with his wife, working on home projects, and with his fur baby dogs, Sasha and Olive. Family was very important to him and he was always a part of all of our celebrations and family functions.
Michael was a big fan and enjoyed sports of all kinds. He was an avid golfer, big fan of the SF Forty Niners, SJ Sharks, and Golden State Warriors. He loved snowboarding, going to the casino, and spending time at the Russian River. Michael definitely loved living life to the fullest. We are so proud of the man Michael was and so honored to have him as our son. Michael, we will love you to infinity.
The Rudometkin Family has set up a GoFundMe account
Karman Singh, the brother of Taptejdeep Singh released the following statement:
We are beyond devastated by the loss of Taptejdeep, a beloved father, husband, brother, son and nephew. He was a wonderful person who was committed to serving others at work and in his free time.
We take some measure of comfort in what we have learned from eyewitnesses and others: Taptejdeep spent his final moments trying to keep others safe. From what we have heard, he reacted quickly to get colleagues into secure offices, and was frantically calling others who would have been coming in for a shift change to warn them about the shooter. We understand that he was attempting to secure his building when he was killed.
Even in these moments of chaos, Taptejdeep was living by the values of Sikhi: living in service and protection of others. We believe that if the shooter had ever asked our brother for help, Taptejdeep would have gone above and beyond for him like he did for everyone he crossed paths with; he never harmed anyone, and no one who knew him would ever want to harm him. We choose to remember Taptejdeep as the hero he was, both in those final moments and throughout his life of service.
Sukhvir Singh (no relation), is a VTA employee who received a phone call from Taptejdeep Singh to warn him about the shooting. Singh issued the following statement:
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Taptejdeep called me to warn me that there was an active shooter in Building B and to go hide or get out immediately. He told me he was with Paul, another victim, at the time. From what I’ve heard, he spent the last moments of his life making sure that others–in the building and elsewhere–would be able to stay safe. Because of him, so many people were able to go home to their families. We will never forget how he lived to the highest ideals of Sikhi in a moment of crisis, and my prayers are with his family and the families of all those who lost loved ones in this horrific attack.
The Singh family has also set up a GoFundMe account