Just hours after community leaders held a prayer rally to end gun violence in Pomona, Calif., a beloved youth pastor, on his way home from a church party, was brutally gunned down in a car early Monday morning.
According to police in an ABC report, four people in a vehicle flagged down a Pomona police officer at about 12:42 a.m. near Third and Thomas Streets and reported that they were shot at in the vicinity of Park Avenue and Mayfair Street.
One of the passengers in the car, Daniel Diaz, 33, of West Covina, a youth pastor at the 500-member New Beginning Church in Baldwin Park where his parents are lead pastors, was shot during the attack.
"I heard loud bangs and the broken glass and at that point I realized we're getting shot at," said Diaz's friend, Eddie Reyes, in a CBS report. Reyes was also a passenger in the car along with two younger members from the church. The youth pastor was the only one who was shot.
"I just saw him fighting for his life, gasping his last breath," said Reyes, who explained that he tried to help Diaz stay alive before emergency services responded. Diaz was rushed to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center and was pronounced dead shortly after 1 a.m. Monday.
At a vigil where hundreds rallied in the youth pastor's honor on Tuesday his grieving mother painfully showed grace to her son's unknown killer.
"My son was an amazing young man. I was so proud of him," said Donna Diaz.
"To the person who did this, if I could see you face to face, I would tell you that God loves you," said Diaz's mother, who attended the vigil with her husband, David Diaz, also a pastor. "And if you knew my son, my son would have loved you."
The family is now seeking to raise $20,000 to help bury Daniel through a gofundme account. So far they have raised nearly half the requested amount.
"Daniel Diaz was an amazing son, brother, grandson, nephew, mentor, and friend to many. Daniel could brighten anyone's day with a smile, which for many, will be unforgettable," noted the narrative on the webpage.
"This tragedy has left the family of Daniel with an unimaginable pain in their hearts. No parent should have to outlive their children, so we ask you to please keep Daniel and his family in your prayers during this difficult time," they added.