GILROY, Calif. (KRON) — Families and friends of the VTA workers gunned down this week are still coming to terms with their loss.
Hometowns and neighborhoods are also grieving.
At 29 years of age, Adrian Balleza was the youngest of the nine VTA employees murdered in Wednesday’s shooting rampage at the VTA rail yard in San Jose.
He lived in a quiet cul de sac in Gilroy, next door to Chris Burnett and his mother.
“He was just a great guy, he was always with his kids,” Burnett said. “He helped my mom out from time to time, helped her move boxes.”
Balleza was a bus driver.
He leaves behind a wife and young son.
In a statement, his wife described him as: “a kind, humble person who could light up a room with his big smile and goofy jokes. His proudest moment was becoming a father. It breaks my heart that he wont be be able to watch him grow up, take him fishing or to his first football game. He was loved by so many people.”
And his passing has clearly touched a nerve in his neighborhood.
“It also hits close to home because I’m a technician,” neighbor Juan Achirica said. “I work on cars and some of the technicians who work at our shop have actually moved to VTA some time ago. There was a temperature in the shop the other day that was like, you know, let’s be nice to each other.”
In her statement, Balleza’s wife said he and two co-workers may have prevented more bloodshed by warning others to take cover before they were gunned down after leaving a breakroom.
Off-camera, several other neighbors praised Balleza’s everyday heroism as an essential worker, but it was the little things remembered most by Burnett and his mother.
“He just gave my mom a whole bunch of food because she’s really sick right now, and I really appreciated that from him. So he’s a really compassionate guy.”