ARVIN, Calif. (KGET) — There were enough people to cover much of North Hill Street, and a neighbor laid out cones to make sure mourners were safe when praying for 10-year-old Liliana Jimenez at a vigil held Wednesday night.
Liliana was killed Saturday night in a shooting, while her father was dropping her and her 12-year-old brother, Christian, off at his home. The father is still hospitalized, and Christian is just beginning to heal.
Right under the street sign of N. Hill and Wilson, was a portrait of the 4th grader, with a gradually growing memorial of candles, flowers, and toys. Her mother and father’s families were surrounded by friends, neighbors, and other community members to support them in their grief. A rosary was prayed for Liliana.
Liliana’s mother, Adriana Santos, who had been in Fresno looking after Christian, spoke to reporters about her loss.
“They’re the best kids, the best kids. She always made everyone smile, some way, some how, she always had a smile on her face. She was a happy little girl. And my son, same way, he’s very cheerful. They made each other’s day, pretty much. They had each other. “
Santos said she has to be strong for Christian’s sake, after he lived through the horror.
“He’s healing, he just experienced everything, and I have to be strong for him and be there for him.”
She thanked the Kern County community for its support in the days after the shooting, and hopes to see change in Arvin and Kern County in general, so other families don’t have to go through what she is going through. A GoFundMe to support Santos was created by her friend, and can be found here.
Liliana’s principal, Hurshel Williams, said the loss was devastating.
“We can’t say enough about Liliana, and her brother Christian, just, their dreams…all that they spoke of planning on accomplishing in the future, and to know in such a short amount of time that’s no longer possible, is devastating,” said Williams.
Mayor Olivia Trujillo said the violence was unlike anything Arvin had seen before, even with its past shootings.
“You hear about it all the time, but now it’s in your back yard, now you never know when it’s going to hit you,” the Mayor said.
Trujillo said she reached out to District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer to hopefully find ways to increase safety in Arvin. She had told 17 News on Tuesday she believed the Arvin Police Department is understaffed.
The only information on suspects are that they were described as two male juveniles with a dark sports sedan, which Arvin PD SAID was disabled by a witness who tried to stop them. The suspects got away after shooting at the witness to escape. Anyone with information on the case can contact Arvin PD at (661) 854-5583