SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA (REUTERS) – To his friends, Lars Kepler Lane – also known as “Keppy” – was a laid back, ordinary guy who liked to spend time with family and take on projects outside his work at the Valley Transportation Authority.
On Wednesday (May 26), Lane was one of nine people shot dead at the Northern California railyard where he worked when a transit employee opened fire on his coworkers.
Also among the dead were an avid motorcyclist, a beloved supervisor and a young father.
Authorities were still investigating the motive of the employee who shot himself after opening fire at about 6.30am on Wednesday as the work day was beginning at a light-rail maintenance yard in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley.
Lane, 63, was a husband, father, grandfather, and a brother to five siblings, said his childhood friend Brad Fisher, a truck driver, in a telephone interview.
He was “an ordinary guy who did extraordinary things,” Fisher said.
An avid bicyclist and a”jack of all trades,” Lane often loved doing projects at home like building a pool in his backyard.
Fisher, 66, said Lane was proud of his work at the VTA, and one time showed Fisher around the rail yard, even letting him operate a train for a minute for fun.
The last time Fisher saw Lane was at his house for Thanksgiving about a decade ago. When Fisher heard the news about the shooting yesterday, he called his friend and got his voicemail, later hearing the tragic news from Lane’s brother.
“It was like a sucker punch to the gut,” Fisher said.
Indian-born Taptejdeep Singh, 36, was always looking to help people – a trait that cost him dearly on Wednesday, family friend Kashmir Singh Shahi said in a telephone interview.
“Many people are now saying he told us: ‘go under the desk.’And the shooter noticed he was doing some activity and that’s how he become a target,” said Shahi, a community outreach coordinator at the Gurdwara Sahib in Fremont.
Taptejdeep Singh was a father of two and a “noble person”who frequently volunteered at the gurdwara and also enjoyed playing cricket, added his friend, who spent time with the family on Wednesday.
“His mom is in pretty bad shape. The little daughter, she was looking around, because there is a time when her dad comes home,” said Shahi.
Paul Delacruz Megia, 42, left behind three children, local television station KRON4 News reported. Megia was remembered by friends on social media for his good humour.
In a Facebook post, his childhood friend Monica Lennon wrote that Megia had a “special twinkle” in his eye and told “dorky jokes.”
“Thank you for making my life so much brighter because of your infectious smile,” Lennon wrote.
Phil Guzman, who said he worked with a few of the victims, wrote on Facebook that Megia was “one of the best supervisors I’ve ever worked for.”
“Never too busy to listen to whatever stupid, silly or crazy thoughts I had. A truly honest and genuine person,” Guzman said of Megia.
Guzman also knew Adrian Balleza, a 29-year-old victim of Wednesday’s shooting. Balleza posted many photos of his wife and young son on his Facebook page.
Michael Rudometkin, 40, was a motorcycle buff, according to his Facebook profile. When he posted on Facebook in December 2018 that he had joined the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority as an Overhead Line Worker, his mother Rose Rudometkin wrote: “Congratulations son!”
According to the authorities, the other victims are: Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, Timothy Michael Romo, Abdolvahab Alaghmandan and Alex Ward Fritch.