Vigil held at Gorton Quad

Ernesto Lopez

Hundreds of people – tears in eyes and with emotions running high – packed Gorton Quad at San Diego City College on Oct. 14 to honor the life of student Diana Gonzalez, 19, who was slain on campus.

Along with family members of Gonzalez, the City College community and friends lit candles and said a prayer asking for peace.

“The flame symbolizes the crusade started in her honor,” San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance Carroll told the crowd. “We mourn, but we honor her.”

Dean of Student Affairs Denise Whisenhunt and several campus organizations came together to plan the memorial.

“(The vigil) is really coming from a place of love,” Whisenhunt told City Times. “Students are grieving, as are staff, faculty and the entire campus community.”

Gonzalez was first reported missing by her parents Oct. 12 after not emerging from campus after her night class. She was found dead in the M building men’s restroom at 10 p.m. that night by a male student who saw an individual exiting with blood-stained clothes.

Although a motive has not been determined, City College President Terrence Burgess said it appears to be a domestic violence situation that spilled onto the campus.

It has been reported by officials that three weeks before her death, Gonzalez had filed a restraining order on her husband and father of her 9-month-old daughter, Armando Perez, 37, after he held her captive for three days.

During the vigil, domestic violence support groups were present to speak with attendees about services available on campus and in the community. Other speakers read poetry dedicated to Gonzalez while others gave their testimonies about being victims of domestic violence.

The Visionary Femenists group was present collecting donations to help the Gonzalez family with funeral arrangments and for the 9-month-old that survived the slain student.

“We as a campus will move forward together to prevent this type of thing from happening again,” professor Larissa Dorman said. “This senseless, brutal murder cannot be tolerated.”

Janet Gonzalez, the victim’s sister, was present at the vigil and attempted to speak to the crowd. Her emotions overcame her as she shared the words, “thank you for everything you’ve done today,” with the crowd.

A cousin of the slain student, Beatriz Luna, did address attendees.

“On behalf of our family during this difficult time, we find it inspiring to see all people gathered here today,” Luna said.

Luna also had a message on behalf of the Gonzalez family to all women in violent relationships.

“Get out now. This is our family today. Don’t let this be your family tomorrow.”

Gonzalez was laid to rest on Oct. 18 in the city of San Diego, and at the time of press Perez’s whereabouts were still unknown.