ORANGE (CBSLA.com) — A 20-year-old Garden Grove man was shot to death for no apparent reason while getting off a street car in San Francisco.
Stacey Butler, reporting for KCAL9, spoke to the man’s grieving aunt. The family is still trying to make sense of the crime.
Justin Valdez was in Northern California attending college.
His aunt, Sharon Dejohn, told Butler that her nephew literally changed the world.
“He’s just, you know, an innocent bystander. He was in the in the wrong place, wrong time,” said the aunt.
Once voted “Most Likely To Change The World”, Valdez never got that chance.
“He would have done great things for a lot of people,” said his aunt.
Nikhom Thephakaysone, 30, is accused of shooting Valdez in the back of the head after he walked off a light rail train.
Police are calling the shooting random and unprovoked.
Valdez was a school standout at Garden Grove High School. He won awards for swimming in high school and was president of the Environmental Club. He helped start a recycling program in the school.
His aunt said he always had a smile and encouraging word for everyone. “He was just a good, loving, caring person.”
Valdez’s Facebook page is filling up with messages from grieving friends who cannot believe he is gone.
“I miss you Justin Valdez … I cannot even begin to process this … it’s a really scary thought how close to home this hits. A man who was going to save the world, had his world end,” one poignant message reads.
Butler also spoke to Justin’s sister from San Francisco. She drove up there as soon as she heard the news.
Valdez’s sister will be returning to Orange County for a special vigil that will be held at Garden Grove High School Friday night from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Another vigil will be held on Sunday at the same time.