GREENWOOD, Ind. — Members of the community gathered with interfaith leaders and city officials Friday evening to remember three people killed in a mass shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall.
The victims are husband and wife, Pedro Pineda, 56, and Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37, and Victor Gomez, 30, a father of three. In just fifteen seconds, three people, whose families said they had so much to live for, were gone.
Two other victims, a 22-year-old woman and a 12-year-old girl, were also injured in the shooting. One day after it happened, City of Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers was contacted by faith leaders, who wanted to coordinate a prayer vigil to support the community.
“We wanted to make it an interfaith vigil because we have people of so many different faiths here in the community and in a time like this, it’s a time where you want to bring people back together to show the love, show the peace, and try to find a cure to stopping all of this violence,” said Myers.
As the community is working to climb a mountain of grief, they’re navigating the next steps of healing as one.
“The initial reaction is shock, you know, it’s never going to happen in my backyard and then it does,” said Myers. “People are in shock but then it’s just amazing to me how they’ve come together, how they’ve shown support, how they’ve shown their love toward each other, how they’re supporting Eli and praising him and what he did, the countless lives he saved, it’s really been a great outpouring of love throughout the community.”
Within 15 seconds of the gunman opening fire inside the mall, 22-year-old Eli Dicken, a man being hailed a hero for stopping the rampage and saving countless lives, fired at the suspect, shooting until he collapsed.
Rosa Gomez’s husband, Victor, was the first person shot as he walked toward the bathroom the shooter came out of. It was just moments before that Rosa said she separated from her husband and entered the nearby restroom with her children by her side.
“She said it wasn’t even a minute or two when she heard something,” said Gloria Gomez, Victor’s cousin. “She said that she didn’t know yet, but she said, ‘I felt it in my heart that they killed him.'”
Rosa, who spoke with FOX59 through a family member on Friday afternoon, said she believes she and her children are alive because of Dicken’s actions, and hopes to someday soon have the opportunity to thank him for saving their lives.
Victor’s family described him as a loving father of three, including two daughters and a son. He was a family man and small business owner who loved his job, his customers, and helping others, including many of his family members in Mexico.
Gloria said, “he was one of a kind.”
“He was the best dad in the world,” said Rosa, who also shared, he was the best husband to her, too.
Translating for Rosa, Gloria said, “He gave her so much love and so many beautiful things that you’ll never be able to forget him.”
“My dad was a very, very good person. He was the best dad in the world,” said his oldest daughter, Dulce Gomez. “He was very hard-working and worked really hard to give us everything we wanted and to take us places we wanted to go.”
Dulce said what she will miss most about her dad is his sense of humor that had the ability to bring an entire room to a collective laugh.
“I loved him very, very much,” she said.
Victor’s mother, Alicia Gomez, said she is incredibly proud of him and grateful in that he always included her in everything he did. As much as people joked Victor and Rosa were one and the same, the same goes for Victor and his mother, who raised him mostly on her own.
Alicia hopes the community will share her son’s story of all the good he did and not allow his memory to be forgotten.
“She asked everybody not forget about her son. He was talented, he was full of dreams,” Gloria shared on Alicia’s behalf.
“He wanted to do so many things. He was always trying, never gave up,” said Rosa.
Family said he loved to give to others, strangers included. One of his favorite things to do, his children said, was going to downtown Indy and helping provide meals for people facing homelessness.
Less than one week before he was killed, Alicia said her son did something for her that she will treasure forever. He woke her up and told her to come outside, where he had a brand new truck waiting for.
“He told her the only condition of him giving her that gift is that he showed her how to drive,” Gloria shared, as the family laughed together in a rare moment of solace this week.
As the community is leaning on each other to process grief together, family members we spoke with said they cannot express enough their gratitude for the support they’ve received; this includes flowers, groceries, condolences, and everything in between.
Like the giving spirit Victor embraced in his everyday life, people who knew Pedro and Rosa said, they were just like that, too.
According to authorities, the couple was killed when the shooter turned his attention to the food court after Victor was shot. They were eating dinner on a Sunday night and never made it home.
Earlier this week, we spoke with a family friend of the couple, who has known them for many years. He shared that they were kind and humble.
“They were me and my younger sister’s babysitter, so we’ve known them for the majority of our life,” said Oscar Maldonado. “They were really nice people. They were like another family for us.”
Maldonado described Rosa as motherly and nurturing. He said she was always there for him and his sister whenever they needed. The news that they lost their lives in the mass shooting stunned his family and other neighbors in the apartment complex where they said the Pinedas used to live.
“My mom found out in the morning. I just felt really empty, I was in disbelief. I’m like, they’re like two of the most caring people you could ever meet. They were so nice and stuff,” Maldonado shared.
At Friday’s vigil, mental health health professionals and emotional support animals were on hand to help provide assistance and grief support.
How to support families of the victims:
A food fundraiser to raise money for Pedro and Rosa is scheduled for Saturday, according to the organizer Diana Escobar. She told FOX59 they’re trying to do whatever they can to help the Pineda family with funeral expenses.
The fundraiser will be held at 3720 West 30th Street in Indianapolis and Salvadoran food will be sold, organizers said.
All three victims killed were members of the Latino community here in Indianapolis.
The cousin of Victor Gomez has also started a GoFundMe to help support his family with expenses.
On Friday, UpLift Johnson County announced it is also taking donations to assist victims’ families with funeral arrangements and ongoing needs as they cope with the loss of their loved ones.