PALM DESERT, Calif. - The names 125 people all of whom were taken from loving families, all victims of crimes, were read aloud at Civic Center Park during a candlelight memorial on Tuesday night to remember those lost.
Dozens of people attended the event and shared support for others grieving the loss of someone important to them. The candelight memorial is part of Victims' Rights Week and was hosted by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.
"It feels very heartbreaking because other people are able to celebrate birthdays with their children and our family isn’t," said Alma Guerrero. Her son was killed six years ago in Indio.
"When I talk to the mother of a murder victim, when I am dealing with a child that has been abused, it is heart wrenching and that is where we get our great will to fight for justice," said Mike Hestrin, Riverside County district attorney.
The keynote speaker of the evening was Diana Reed. Twenty years ago her son, Anthony Martinez, was kidnapped and murdered in Beaumont. Reed talked about the importance of strength.
"I now realize that moving forward is strength. It is effective force. It is pushing on. It’s going to court time and time again and facing your loved one's killer," said Reed.
Some of these people in attendance have been coming year after year to this vigil. Many bringing posters and pictures of those they lost. Some of them said it’s important to talk to people who have gone through this type of horrible experience.
Some are here for the first time. Sandra Maturino says her sister Rosemary Barrasa was murdered in May of 2016. Police say Barrasa was a victim of domestic violence stabbed to death with a screwdriver. Barrasa was a single mom who left behind one son and seven daughters.
"I’ll be honest i am a little numb, it is still fresh for us," said Maturino.
According to the DA’s office, last year law enforcement in Riverside County responded to 116 homicides.
There are two more vigils like this one scheduled this week. One is tomorrow in Temecula at City Hall at 7 p.m. and one on Thursday the old courthouse in Riverside at 7 p.m.