SAN JOSE (KPIX) — On Saturday Lars Kepler Lane would’ve turned 64.
The San Jose man, known as Kep, was murdered during Wednesday morning’s mass shooting at the VTA rail yard where he worked for about 20 years. Nine others also were killed, including the shooter who ultimately turned the gun on himself.READ MORE: COVID Surge: Mask Mandate Returns To Bay Area Businesses With No Limits On Capacity
“It’s shock and pain and then it feels surreal for huge periods,” said Kep’s youngest son Michael Kepler Lane. “He was so happy, he was always so joyous and wonderful.”
The last time Lane saw his father was on Monday when Kep called to ask for his help on his backyard projects. He said his dad meant “everything” to him.
“I don’t think I could ever amount to a fraction of the gentleman and overall stud that my father was,” Lane said. “He was loved by so many and he could do so much.”
He said his father planned to spend his birthday in Sacramento this weekend. Last Sunday, Lane and his girlfriend Nicole Tong took his father and his wife out to dinner to celebrate.
“He could not have had a better time but that was who my dad was,” Lane said. “There wasn’t a moment he didn’t leave anything on the table when it came to joy and happiness for any moment.”
On Wednesday morning, Lane was on his way to work in Stockton when Tong sent him a text about the VTA shooting.
“In that moment I was naive as I’m sure most people would be,” said Lane who thought that his dad could not have been a victim. “Of course it’s not, I’m sure my dad didn’t start then or my dad was already out on the road.”
He said he turned around and headed back to San Jose to the sheriff’s office, which is right next door to the VTA rail yard.
Tong was already there and was asking others if they had seen Kep.READ MORE: Firefighters Battling 2-3 Acre Wildfire In Lake County
“One glimmer of hope that someone had seen my father after the fact and I put so much weight and belief in that, that I really think that was true,” Lane said. “I thought it was going to be OK up until the moment that the sheriff told us that it wasn’t.”
After hours of waiting for answers, Lane and eight other families learned they’d lost someone in the shooting. The gunman, Samuel Cassidy, also a VTA employee, has been described as a disgruntled employee.
Cassidy had set his San Jose home on fire before leaving for the rail yard that morning. A large cache of weapons and ammunition were found inside.
Lane said his father never had a chance.
“My dad was in his work station and it seemed like that he was trapped, he was cornered by a man with guns so he had no escape,” Lane saod. “I assume if he did actually target my dad it was out of jealousy for everything that my dad was and how beautiful and wonderful and loved my dad was.”
Tong tearfully said Kep’s constant small acts of kindness toward her has left a huge void in her life.
“He learned Mandarin to talk to me, he would cook Chinese food for me,” Tong said. “He’s like a father to me.”
In the last few days, Lane said family, Kep’s friends, co-workers and even neighbors have surrounded them with support and stories about how his father impacted each of them with his smile and warmth.
“I’m going to miss having him here to be there for me,” Lane said. “He’s been there for every moment of my life.”MORE NEWS: UPDATE: Shooting Shuts Down EB Highway 4 In Antioch
The family has set up a GoFundMe page for Kep’s funeral expenses