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San Jose, Calif., Councilman Remembers Victim Of Railyard Shooting

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

San Jose, Calif., is in mourning after a shooting yesterday at a local transit facility. Ten people, including the gunman, are dead. All were employees of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Michael Joseph Rudometkin was one of the victims, and his close friend, city council member Raul Peralez joins us now. Welcome. And my condolences on your loss.

RAUL PERALEZ: Yeah, thank you. Thank you for having me.

SHAPIRO: Will you begin by just telling us a little bit about your friend, who died yesterday?

PERALEZ: Yeah. You know, obviously, difficult time right now and still in shock and disbelief.

SHAPIRO: Of course.

PERALEZ: But, you know, Mike was a tremendous human being. He was someone that was literally friends with everybody. We've known each other since middle school. And in the outpouring of, you know, just support from people that have known him since - you know, since elementary even - right? - and middle and high school and all through the years, it's the common theme that people are just pouring out, saying, honestly, how great of a person he was, how he got along with everybody. He stuck up for - you know, for people. He didn't have that - you know, those clique groups growing up. He really was a tremendous human being, outgoing, always willing to help others and was a close friend of mine and my family's.

SHAPIRO: Is there a specific memory of him that you've been returning to in the last day or so?

PERALEZ: So many, honestly. I was hanging out with, you know, his parents, his sister, this morning and then with his wife and a group of friends that we - you know, we've been friends since middle school - last night. And just reminiscing around, you know, all the memories through the years, you know, sharing some laughs, tears. Literally, you know, countless memories of us - we played football together in high school. We shared, you know, side-by-side lockers and played ball for four years together. And obviously, just all throughout the years, you know - attending each other's weddings...

SHAPIRO: Yeah.

PERALEZ: ...And being there for, you know, birthday celebrations, getting the friends group from back in the day back together every year for the holidays. And up until the latest of - you know, he actually hung out with my dad more than I did lately, you know, doing golfing. And we were just planning that. We were just planning a golf little reunion. Obviously, after a year of COVID here, we were planning to get together for another golf trip over the next couple weeks here.

SHAPIRO: I know you posted on Facebook about the many families in San Jose that are in mourning right now. Have you reached out to other folks who lost loved ones?

PERALEZ: Yeah, I was able to, you know, be there both in my capacity as a council member and a VTA board member and then, obviously, personally, with, you know, Michael's family yesterday and, in that time, was also able to speak with some of the other families of the victims. And actually, at that point, we were still waiting - you know, final word. And so there was just a lot of suspense and anxiety, including, you know, myself sharing in that. It was an agonizing time to sort of just be waiting on, you know, the status of your loved one. And so I was able to be with those families at that point. And then I was there when - shortly after the families were notified. And I was actually with Michael's family.

SHAPIRO: You know the city of San Jose well, as somebody who was born and raised there, in addition to being a city council member. How is the city, broadly, doing today?

PERALEZ: I would say, you know, obviously, this is reverberating - right? - throughout the country and the world, as sometimes - you know, we know that these incidents happen all far too often now, but they still do impact everybody tremendously, especially the local community. And, you know, because it's not - right? - myself - right? - just myself. There's so many people now here that, likely, you know, we're friends, family, loved one, co-worker, with these nine individuals that now are dead. And so that's just reverberating throughout the whole entire city of San Jose. And we've had an outpouring of tremendous support.

SHAPIRO: That's San Jose, Calif., city council member Raul Peralez. Thank you for speaking with us today.

PERALEZ: You're welcome. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.