Voices: Several miles away from the Orange County mass shooting

Voices: Several miles away from the Orange County mass shooting
Source: Reuters/Alex Gallardo

It was another day of double-masking, expensive lattes and endless mobile orders as my Starbucks team and I finally hit the end of what seemed to be a nonstop rush of vaccinated customers ready to take part in the day. As evening rolled by, we had a moment of silence and one of my daily regulars walked in looking concerned. “Did you hear about what happened a couple miles up on Lincoln? Four dead, another shooting. Not sure why, but they killed a kid this ti—”

As I stood there, listening to him pour his frustration out on the world to me, I thought to myself, how is it people are still able to commit these crimes during times of such downfall? Whenever something like this happens, I always want to believe that the suspect is suffering from a mental or psychological disability; reassuring my self-conscious that it isn’t just someone wanting to do this, wanting to kill people.

I recollected just how many mass shootings in the United States there have been this past year and accidentally overflowed the coffee I was pouring for him. I gasped, but a part of me couldn’t tell whether it was from the heat of the coffee or from how many people have experienced death these past couple of years. My regular took his double-cupped Pike Place and headed toward the exit, turning his head and saying to me, “Be careful out there, the coronavirus isn’t the only thing killing people.”

I stood there distraught and not knowing how to feel about the current state of the world. As if we weren’t already going through enough death and destruction, shooters are committing triple homicides with nothing holding them back. I closed the store, cautiously walked my co-worker to her car and proceeded home to update myself on the recent local shootings.

Orange Police Lt. Jennifer Amat did a live press conference and released the most recent update of that night. On March 31, 2021 at approximately 5:30 p.m., the Orange Police Department received multiple calls of shots fired in Orange, California. The original call was two shots fired at a local business in the area of 202 West Lincoln in the City of Orange. Upon arrival, the officers soon discovered shots were actively being fired and immediately approached the building’s courtyard. The suspect seemed to have used a bicycle-type cable to secure the gates from the inside, so the officers on scene were unable to enter the courtyard. Two officers soon made contact with the suspect and exchanged fire.

Officers were able to force entry through the gates and into the courtyard, locating the suspect, 44 year old Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, who was injured and taken into custody. Additionally, officers located two victims in the courtyard area; one was a deceased nine year old boy by the name of Mathew Jordan Farias, and the other was his mother, Blanca Esmeralda Tamayo, who had been shot and critically injured. The suspect as well as the victim were transported to a local hospital where they both remain in critical but stable condition.

Officers then began a systematic search of the complex and located three more deceased victims; one female adult was located upstairs on an outdoor landing, one male was located inside in an office building and another adult female in a separate office building. Several items recovered at the scene included a semi-automatic gun and a backpack containing pepper spray, handcuffs and ammunition.

As I began searching for more details regarding this local shooting, my eyes seemed to be scanning through endless articles about other mass shootings across the United States: 23 people killed in El Paso, Texas, 10 more dead in Boulder, Colorado and another eight people (six being women of Asian descent) killed most recently in the Atlanta area.

My eyes began to water as I read about all the families and children that lost their lives – not due to the coronavirus, but to something more relentless and cruel. I then clicked on a video of Louis Tovar, kin to the three shooting victims standing strong in front of the cameras, focused not on the death of his dad, sister and little brother, but on the recovery of his hospitalized mother. “At the moment, she is relatively unresponsive, but I know she can hear me, I believe it,” he says.

This Voices story was written by Kevin Masmela. Kevin is a writer and barista who currently lives in California.

Have a story to share? Get in touch at contributors@themilsource.com