Community comes together with VTA victims

Ritu Jha-

“You don’t need that kind of muscle. What you need is a lion’s heart.” That was Karman Gill Singh, describing his deceased brother Taptej Singh to thousands at a vigil held Thursday, May 28, at San Jose City Hall, in honor of Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) employees killed by their coworker.

Taptej Singh, 36, an employee at the Valley Transportation Authority light rail facility in San Jose, died saving other coworkers when Samuel Cassidy, 57, fired 32 shots with two semiautomatic handguns, killing nine other coworkers, and finally himself.

Karman, who is six years younger than Taptej, said the family waited all day for the news they wished never to get.

He said, “My nephew and my niece are not going to have a father. No matter how much I love them that everyone loves them they are going to ask for their father.”

Karman described his brother’s strength, valor and generosity of spirit.

“No matter when I called, all he’d ask was, ‘What’s the problem and I’m gonna help,’”
Karman said, adding that his brother considered the VTA his family and was proud of his team.

Karman also spoke directly to the needs of the families of the other victims.

“First, I did not have the courage to come up here, but my brother was always happy to go to the VTA and tell everyone they are family,” he said. “For the nine people who had lost their loved ones, I have a huge community and they are all here for you any time. We have to support each other going forward, to show unity regardless of race, color or where we come from, and show the world we stand together.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said, “We’re here to share our pain, we’re here to share our love, to support. We’re here to express a singular message in our community: We will heal, and we will heal together.”

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren the issue of gun violence, arguing for a need to recommit to end gun violence in the country.

Balkan Singh(left) at the vigil in San Jose. Photo- Indica News

Balkan Singh, a VTA employee who came along with his son-in-law to the vigil sharing Taptej, told indica News, “We used to work together sometimes. I am on the bus line side and he was into rail. But we used to get together. He was a nice man.” He said they were just two of about 500 Sikhs who worked in the facility.

Asked if he was concerned about going back to work, Singh said, “Yes, what happened is bad…and it’s hard.”
Assemblymember Ash Kalra, a former member and chair of the Santa Clara VTA board stated, ‘No one should risk losing their life to senseless gun violence just by showing up at work, going to school, or visiting a store. We must act to curb gun violence now.”

Taptej Singh was described by multiple witnesses as a hero. The descriptions reminded the Sikh community of the recent FedEx warehouse shooting in Indianapolis where several Sikh employees lost their lives.

Bob Dhillon, the founder of the Sikh gurdwara in San Jose, plans to host another vigil at his gurdwara Saturday, May 29.

He told indica News, “You go to the vigil, mourn, and then we hear about another shooting.”Dhillon referred to the Indianapolis shooting and said, ”I don’t know what is stopping the government from seeking strict background checks [to assess] the mental status of the people buying a gun, because most of these shooters shoot themselves after killing others.”

Samuel J. Cassidy

According to the Santa Clara Sheriff’s office, the shooter was Samuel James Cassidy 57, an employee at VTA. He carried three semi-automatic handguns (9mm) at the scene, which included 32 individual high capacity handgun magazines loaded with additional ammunition.

The initial investigation shows Cassidy was a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years, which may have contributed to why he targeted VTA. Before heading to the VTA facility, he set his house located at Angmar Court in the City of San Jose on fire, where the investigators discovered multiple cans of gasoline, suspected Molotov Cocktails, twelve (12) firearms, and approximately twenty-two thousand (22,000) rounds of various types of ammunition.