BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A local pastor is calling for victims of gun violence to come together this weekend at a rally and vigil for 16-year-old Marya Neufeld.
The rally and vigil will be held at 5 PM Sunday on Cottonwood Road and McNew Court. Pastor Ray Ballard with Operation: Soulwinner said he wants the rally to encourage families of victims not to give up hope and for Bakersfield’s community to take a stand against violence. The majority of known homicides this year have been shooting deaths, including the killing of Carlos Perez Hernandez, who was shot just up the street from where Ballard wants to hold the vigil.
Neufeld’s body was discovered March 6 at an orchard off Tower Line Rd and Buena Vista Boulevard. The teen mother had been shot in the head. The crime is personal for Ballard, because his 17-year-old daughter, Kaitlynn, was friends with Neufeld, who says the 16-year-old was there for her during dark times in her own life.
Nancy Larson, Neufeld’s aunt, said her family plans to hand out fliers during the rally to spread word of the $2,000 reward for information they are offering to anyone who helps them solve the shooting. That award is on top of what is raised through GoFundMe donations.
Anyone with information on Marya Neufeld’s death can contact KCSO at (661) 861-3110 or stay anonymous by calling Kern Secret Witness at (661) 322-4040.