Salinas Faith Leaders hold vigil for gun violence victims

The Salinas Faith Leaders Group held a vigil at the Salinas Police Department for Jorge Alvarado and other community members who recently died as a result of gun violence on Saturday, March 5. 

Alvarado was a Salinas police officer who, according to CBS SF Bay Area, was shot and killed “after pulling over a vehicle driven by Gustavo Matias Morales around 10:45 p.m. Friday on East Market Street in Salinas. Morales allegedly exited his vehicle and fired multiple rounds at Alvarado.”

Other cases of recent shootings in the area include California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students Karina Chavez Vargas and her boyfriend Jesus Arias Villa who were shot and killed in their car while parked near Closter Park, according to Josh Copitch from KSBW. CSUMB Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Leslie Williams released the following statement last month to students in an email: 

“I am deeply saddened to inform you of the loss of a member of our CSUMB family. Karina had just completed the requirements for her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in December and was looking forward to walking at commencement in May. Karina was from Salinas and adored playing with her dog. Concentrating in exercise science, she enjoyed staying fit, eating well, and being outdoors. We offer our deepest condolences to Karina’s family, friends, and loved ones, as well as to those of Jesus Villa.”

Angel Rivero, pastor of East Salinas Methodist Church and member of the Salinas Faith Leaders Group said “We wanted this [vigil] to include those other shootings that have happened in Salinas recently. We had the couple that died at Closter Park and the 17-year-old who was killed near Laurel park.”

The forementioned 17-year-old teenager, whose identity has not been released, who was shot in Laurel Park on Feb. 24 and later died in the hospital two days later according to Sheyanne N. Romero from The Californian

 “We wanted this to be a space that also included them since the vigil [on Wednesday] was geared more specifically towards the officer,” said Rivero. “We wanted this to be a vigil for peace and to address gun violence in the community.”

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