Victims of violent crime will gather tonight for a twilight vigil at San Jose City Hall to honor both the victims and the law enforcement officials who track down their attackers. At the second annual vigil, which begins at 7 p.m., city officials and dignitaries will honor the memories of those killed by violent crime and recognize police officers and firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. They will also pay tribute to the law enforcement officials whowork to solve those cases. Those attending are encouraged to bring a photo of their lost loved one to share, and new to this year’s vigil, a sign-up sheet will be provided to encourage those who also wish to speak to share their personal stories. Scheduled speakers include Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr, San Jose City Council members Nancy Pyle and Ash Kalra, and Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, director of the Santa Clara County Office of Women’s Policy. Also speaking will be Sandy Fontana, mother of former San Jose police Officer Jeffrey Fontana, who was shot and killed in 2001. Peralez-Dieckmann said she hopes tonight’s event will remind the community that domestic violence “is still very much a problem” and that in addition to honoring those who have died as a result of violence, there are people who live with violence every day. In Santa Clara County, shelters served 699 women and children in 2009, but 1,052 were turned away because the shelters were full, she said. It takes courage for those in abusive situations to decide to leave and seek help, and it’s important to seize that moment before fear takes over again, she said. “This is an important opportunity to remind the community that there is still an enormous number of people who are living in violent situations,” Peralez-Dieckmann said. Kathleen Flynn, Casandra Hosseini and Bobby Lopez are sponsoring the event along with the Martin Luther King Jr. Association. Hosseini’s father, Vahid Hosseini, was a popular storeowner in San Jose who was robbed and gunned down in a bank parking lot in 2009. “My dad’s birthday was Monday; he would have been 50,” Hosseini said. “Instead of celebrating his birthday, we’re mourning his death.” One suspect has been charged in the case, but Hosseini said other suspects are still being sought. A $90,000 reward still stands. She said she hopes tonight’s event will bring a renewed community interest in helping police solve her father’s murder. The event is also intended to recognize the police for their work on cases such as her father’s.
“I’m just so happy with the work the San Jose Police Department has done with this case. When you’re a victim, you’re just so focused on your grieving that you don’t want to waste your time calling the police asking, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?'” she said. “I’m 100 percent confident that the homicide detectives are doing everything they can to bring these people to justice.” The vigil will be held at San Jose City Hall, located at 200 East Santa Clara St., from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Lopez, one of the event organizers, has purchased glow sticks for the attendees because candles are not permitted. Tonight’s event also includes the presentation of a plaque to Sandy Fontana by Rev. Bonita Carter-Cox, president of Martin Luther King Jr. Association.
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