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Bay City community gathers to pray for victims of shooting

By adriana_acosta
Dec. 7, 2011 at 6:07 a.m.

Brothers Anthony and Dennis Ramirez, both 9, were determined to keep all the candles lit after the candlelight vigil Wednesday at the Matagorda County Courthouse for the victims of the Nov. 30 shooting in Bay City. Several people brought their own candles and more than  600 small candles were donated and lit for the vigil.

BAY CITY - Macie Perez witnessed the shooting first hand.

The Bay City Junior High student was walking home from school Nov. 30 with her friends when a father of four shot and killed his children and wounded his wife before turning the gun on himself.

"It is important that I am here today to pay my respects to the family," she said.

During the shooting, the 12-year-old made a frantic 911 call, pleading for help on the afternoon of the shooting, just outside the family's home in the 2700 block of 10th Street.

"I know that if I wasn't for me, that lady could be dead with the rest of her children and husband," Perez added.

On Wednesday, almost 200 people attended a Bay City community candlelight vigil in memory of the four children who died in the shooting. Candles illuminated the area outside the Matagorda County Courthouse.

The four children: Miguel Gonzalez, 5; Daniel Gonzalez, 3; Shaun Gonzalez, 4; and Cecilia Gonzalez, 18 months. All died last week after the shootings.

Those who attended the three-hour vigil helped light the more than 600 candles that were placed on the steps of the courthouse.

Also attending and addressing the people who came to the vigil was Bay City Mayor Mark Bricker.

"One week ago today, like everyone else, I was shaken when hearing that such a heartbreaking event had occurred," Bricker said.

He said since the event last week, the community has wept and prayed together in hopes that the family of Laura Gonzalez has strength to recover. The mother of the children was first listed in critical condition at a Houston hospital, but since has been upgraded to serious condition.

"But I tell you, there is faith and hope, faith that the family would find the strength to forgive and recover. Hope that we grow closer and become more aware of others in need of help," he said.

There are no magic words, no perfect phrase to heal hearts, Bricker said.

Then a moment of silence for the children and mother was followed by the release of four white balloons, concluding the candlelight vigil.

Perez said she never thought she would be a witness to something so tragic.

Johnnie Perez, Macie's dad, was by her side at the candlelight vigil. Perez said he went through something similar when he was young.

"She needs me to be by her side, and I am here for her," he said.

He said when the shooting occurred, her daughter called him but there was nothing he could do because he was not in the area.

"I need to be there; I feel for her," he said.

With tears welling in her eyes and hugging her father tight, Perez uttered that it was important for her to be at the vigil.

"I feel really upset especially since it involved innocent children dying. It's not like both adults were fighting over candy, these were innocent lives," she said.

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