BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Their grief is now a constant companion. The family of slain correctional counselor and Navy Veteran Benny Alcala Jr. is still reeling from the senseless shooting death which led to a tragic loss now looming over them.
It’s nearing a week since the family lost the one they called ‘the peacekeeper of the family.’
Still no suspects, no arrests but many unanswered questions.
“I knew he had an impact on people,” Warren Woolsey, Alcala’s uncle, said. “But to see how many people he impacted, it is touching.”
Sunday night, a candlelight vigil was held at the site where Alcala lost his life. Dozens of community members gathered to pay respects to a family who carries an enormous amount of pain.
Last Wednesday, a different scene played out in that exact parking lot of the Stockdale Highway shopping center. Chaos and uncertainty danced around a taped-up parking lot where Alcala laid, bleeding to death.
Beyond the taped-off area, Alcala’s family gathered eagerly for answers.
Mary Mendoza, Alcala’s mother-in-law, arrived anguished, defeated and with a bad feeling after searching for Alcala at area hospitals.
“The family was out there for 5 hours,” Mendoza said. “Praying and hoping we weren’t going to get the news that I already felt in my heart.”
Alcala had just celebrated 19 years of marriage with his wife Valerie the day before his death.
Mendoza says Benny was charging his electric vehicle the night he was shot, the family had a planned trip to Arroyo Grande, where his son Maxx was to play for Centennial High School.
“I’m sure any mother doesn’t want to see their child hurting,” Mendoza said. “His Wallet was still with him, the cell phone was still with him, I don’t think it was a random act, I believe someone wanted to do this to him.”
An investigation is still underway and Bakersfield Police are still very tight-lipped on a suspect or motive.
“He leaves behind a big hole,” Woolsey said. “We are going to have to fill that, each and every one of us.
Alcala’s family has set up a GoFundMe link where you can donate to his family. To donate, click here.
“I’m just passing on the message that my daughter is sitting on,” Mendoza said. “She just wants to know who and why, because there is no understanding of why.”