‘These tragedies touch hundreds’: Santa Cruz mayor laments local resident among VTA mass shooting deaths
A graduate of Cupertino High School and Evergreen College, Michael Rudometkin lived in Santa Cruz with his wife, Gloria. He was killed Wednesday morning when authorities say a VTA worker opened fired on his colleagues at the light rail yard on West Younger Ave in San Jose.
Michael Rudometkin, among the nine victims killed in a mass shooting Wednesday morning at light-rail yard in San Jose, was a resident of Santa Cruz, local authorities have confirmed.
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Rudometkin, 40, was an overhead line worker for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. He started with the VTA in 2013 as a mechanic, according to the transit agency — later becoming an electro mechanic, then an overhead line worker.
A graduate of Cupertino High School and Evergreen College, Rudometkin lived in Santa Cruz with his wife, Gloria. He was killed Wednesday morning when authorities say a VTA worker opened fired on his colleagues at the light rail yard on West Younger Ave.
Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers shared condolences with Rudometkin’s family on behalf of the city in a statement she provided to Lookout, calling the shooting a “violent and horrible tragedy.”
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“The city sends its wishes and support to Michael’s wife, Gloria, his family, his many friends, neighbors and colleagues,” Meyers said in the statement. “Michael was much loved, helped his neighbors, took care of his friends and family and lived a life filled with many who will miss him greatly.”
Meyers went on to signal her support for unspecified reforms: “These tragedies touch hundreds and hundreds of lives every year and we must remedy this violence in our society — it is past time,” she said.
Rudometkin was attending a union meeting at the time of the shooting, according to a statement to KRON4 from his mother, Rose Rudometkin.
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“He had just turned 40 and still had more to live and accomplish,” Rose Rudometkin said in the statement. “He has always been a wonderful son, brother, loving husband, uncle, cousin and friend to many. He would give his last penny and shirt off his back. Anyone could call him for help and he’d be there.”
San Jose City Councilmember Raul Peralez was high school classmates with Rudometkin. At a news conference Thursday, he said the two remained close, calling him a “lifelong friend.” Peralez said he spent Wednesday night grieving with Rudometkin’s wife and friends.
“I unfortunately get to know personally how these nine families have felt, last night, this morning, with just a sense of disbelief, with a hope your loved one is still going to come home, and knowing that is never going to happen,” said Peralez, who sits on the VTA board and represents a district including the site of the shooting.
Wednesday’s mass shooting is reportedly the deadliest such event in Bay Area history. It follows two years after a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival left three victims dead, among them 25-year-old Santa Cruz resident Trevor Irby.
Authorities have identified the nine victims killed in Wednesday’s shooting as:
- Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63
- Adrian Balleza, 29
- Alex Ward Fritch, 49
- Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35
- Lars Kepler Lane, 63
- Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40
- Paul Delacruz Megia, 42
- Taptejdeep Singh, 36
- Timothy Michael Romo, 49
The suspected gunman, Samuel James Cassidy, 57, died at the scene of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Santa Clara County authorities.