Following the fatal shooting at the Ford Store Morgan Hill that resulted in the deaths of employees Xavier Souto and Brian Light, the city council has been reacting to the effects the shooting has had on the community.
At a press conference held June 26, the day after the shooting, Mayor Rich Contstantine addressed first responders, the media and the community. He assured Morgan Hill residents that Morgan Hill would continue to be a safe city.
“One tragedy does not a trend make,” said Constantine. “Morgan Hill is and will continue to be one of Santa Clara County’s safest cities.”
Councilmember John McKay, speaking to the Times outside the police station after the press conference, added, “This is not going to define Morgan Hill.”
He said the local tragedy shows that such violence “can happen anywhere,” and is a symptom of larger societal concerns.
“It’s a problem a lot bigger than Morgan Hill,” McKay said. “Society is broken but I don’t believe we can’t fix it. There’s something we need to tackle within our society.”
Light and Souto were shot by suspect Steven Leet, who had worked at the Ford Store on Condit Road for about eight years. Leet had been fired earlier in the day June 25. He returned inside the dealership shortly after he was fired, and about 6pm fatally shot Light and Souto, his supervisors in the parts and service departments. Leet then walked out to the parking lot, and shot himself in the head, according to police. The victims and suspect were San Jose residents.
The Morgan Hill City Council meeting the evening of June 26 gave councilmembers the opportunity to offer messages of condolences to the victims’ families and support to the community. When giving their council reports, councilmembers Larry Carr, Yvonne Martínez-Béltran and Mayor Pro Tempore, Rene Spring spoke about the shooting.
Carr reiterated Constantine’s point that this was an isolated incident. He said it will be a difficult grieving process for Morgan Hill, but that the community will come together.
“Rarely has there been gun violence in Morgan Hill and never on this scale,” said Carr. “Today we grieve, today is a day of grieving. We grieve for the families who have lost loved ones, we grieve for the coworkers, the customers, the family that is the Ford Store in Morgan Hill and we grieve for perhaps the loss of a little bit of our innocence here in our community.”
Spring read a poem to commemorate the victims and their memories. “None of us expect this, when we go to work we want to be safe, we expect to be safe and now out of nowhere that hope is gone again,” said Spring. “Morgan Hill will never be the same. But it will always be a Morgan Hill that stands together, that is strong, that is caring that we all love. We don’t always agree, but now is a time to stick together.”
He encouraged people to give to the GoFundMe page set up by the Ford Store Morgan Hill for the victims’ families.
Martínez-Béltran thanked the first responders for their quick response. “I think that we’ve seen this happen throughout our nation and our country and it’s rattled us. What’s very scary is now we feel it’s reached here, it’s reached home” said Martínez-Béltran. “I want to tell you that I still believe that Morgan Hill is truly still a very safe place to be.”
Also on June 26, city staff sent a message to Morgan Hill residents signed by City Manager Christina Turner. The message was sent in the form of an email blast, and offered more details on the shooting and condolences to the Ford Store victims and their families.
Turner concluded the message by sharing that resources are available for those suffering from personal crisis or mental illness: “This event was a tragic event for all involved and for the entire Morgan Hill Community. We want to share that help is available for those in crisis at 1.800.273.8255 or by texting CONNECT to 741741.”