Community comes together for Ford Store victims

Coworkers, families attend Thursday night vigil

Morgan Hill residents gathered to mourn after the shooting the evening of June 25 at the Ford Store in Morgan Hill.

A flood of light filled the Morgan Hill downtown amphitheater at a candlelight vigil held the evening of June 27 to mourn Xavier Souto and Brian Light, who were killed in a shooting at the Ford Store Morgan Hill on June 25.

“When I heard the news that a shooting had taken place my first thought was, ‘that can’t happen; this is Morgan Hill’,” Pastor Mike Burchfield, Police Chaplain to the Morgan Hill Police Department said to an overflowing crowd at the vigil.

The residents and leaders of Morgan Hill processed the shock and realization that violence had permeated the tight-knit community. An amphitheater full of people joined hands and sang  “Amazing Grace.” Several community leaders spoke to the crowd, including councilmembers Yvonne Martínez-Béltran and John Mckay, Mayor Pro Tempore Rene Spring, City Manager Christina Turner and Assemblymember Robert Rivas. The service lasted about 40 minutes.

Martínez-Béltran called on the faith community to hold a vigil following the events. She consoled the Souto family and wept with his mother in an embrace as the service came to an end.

The two men, Souto and Light, were managers at the dealership. They were killed the evening of June 25 when Steven Leet, who had been fired earlier in the day, returned inside the Ford Store with a gun. Souto’s family and friends attended the vigil and so did employees from the Ford Store.

The shock that a national issue like gun violence had penetrated the small rural city of Morgan Hill was evident in the speakers’ words at the vigil. Rivas used it as an opportunity to call for change, while councilmembers like McKay and Martínez-Béltran promised this would not permanently change the city.

“I’m tired of having to turn on the TV and learn, learn about a shooting, learn about victims, learn about their families who have to suffer this loss. It’s exhausting: This is not the America I grew up in, this is not the California I grew up in,” said Rivas.

“This incident will never ever define this community—we need to come together and build Morgan Hill up,” he said. “This is a time to remember the victims, to pray for their families and as a community begin to heal.”

Several speakers from Morgan Hill’s interfaith community offered consoling words to Morgan Hill residents and the families of Souto and Light. 

“The shock of their loss and the depth of grief is indescribable and they definitely need all of the support they can get from our community and from other sources as well; the Ford Store family also is in shock and is in grief,” said Burchfield. “But also we’ve come together for mutual support of one another during this tragic time.

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