Saturday, May 14, 2011

Close to Home

I have to write something that is difficult for me. Something that hurts. I need to write it and remove some of the weigh of if from my heart.

On Tuesday night, we were out of town visiting family. As we were about to make our drive home, we found out through postings by friends on Facebook that there had been a shooting back in San Jose at school. The shooting took place in one of SJSU's parking garages on 10th street and it was immediately reported that the shooter was in custody and that two victims had been pronounced dead at the scene.

The garage is less than a block from our apartment. It is directly over the building I work in. Even without knowing the motive or any details, I felt uneasy going home that night. Downtown San Jose can be an unpredictable place. I wouldn't say that it is unsafe, but you do need to be careful. I've always felt a little bit uneasy. It would turn out though, that Tuesday night had very little to do with the climate of Downtown.

We later learned that there were two victims, one male and one female, killed in a car by a shooter who had then turned the gun on himself. The victims had died at the scene of the shooting, but the shooter was rushed to a nearby medical center where he later died from his injuries. There were lots of theories about the motive. People said that it was gang related, that it was a love triangle, that it was random. None of those turned out to be true.

We didn't have much information until the identities of the victims were released on Thursday morning. The Mercury News wrote the following:

They were barely three weeks shy of graduating with business degrees from San Jose State. Cindy Caliguiran and Kyle Williams were study partners, friends say, nothing more. She probably just offered him a ride home after an evening class on campus.

Waiting with a gun on the fifth floor of the campus garage was her husband -- a Silicon Valley engineer more than twice her age. A classmate heard the screams -- then gunfire -- reverberate through the concrete parking structure.

Within minutes, police found Cindy Caliguiran and Thomas Kyle Williams dead, shot repeatedly, in the front seat of her black 2005 Mercedes. Napoleon "Nappy" Caliguiran lay next to the car, mortally wounded from a self-inflicted gunshot.

On Thursday, shocked students and faculty members learned the identities of the first San Jose State students ever killed on campus -- both honor students, both married, one with a job at a major accounting firm waiting.

But the campus community was still trying to comprehend why the 54-year-old native of the Philippines tracked down his bride of three years Tuesday night about 8:30 with a gun registered in his name.

"Something snaps, something happens, we don't know," said Mike Supnet, of Pacifica, the brother of Caliguiran's first wife. "Sometimes the water fills the glass and spills over the glass and that's what happened."

Police didn't reveal details about the marriage between Caliguiran and his 25-year-old wife, whose family lives in the Philippines, or what he may thought was going on between her and the 26-year-old Williams.

The Caliguirans lived on the fourth floor of the √Član Village apartment complex in North San Jose. A downstairs neighbor who didn't want to be identified said that although he never met the couple, about two weeks ago they were so loud upstairs that he called security. He was awakened by heavy stomping upstairs, he said. When asked whether the couple was fighting, he said, "something like that."

NBC11 reported that an unnamed sister of Cindy Caliguiran in the Philippines said she was trying to escape an abusive marriage. Yet Supnet said he never knew his former brother-in-law to be anything but "a soft character," or to strike his sister during their 25-year marriage. "I've never seen him get mad," he said.

Napoleon Caliguiran worked for nearly 20 years as an engineer designing medical devices for Abbott Vascular in Santa Clara, had been divorced from his first wife -- the mother of his two grown children -- since 2003 and filed for bankruptcy in 2005. His new wife -- Marjory Tarlit "Cindy" Caliguiran -- belonged to Beta Alpha Psi, an honors organization for finance and accounting majors. She had transferred from De Anza College.

Williams, raised in Auburn, was graduating with top honors and had already been offered a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers upon graduation. Friends and family say he was happily married to his wife of two years.

"He was our only son," Williams' father, Thomas Anthony Williams, said Thursday afternoon through tears. "We were so proud of him, for what he did and for the future he had created for himself. He didn't deserve this."

Williams' father said he was planning a service for his son in San Jose, and another near Auburn. Williams was an avid golfer and Sharks and 49ers fan.

"He never ceased to be an awesome guy," friend Ben Hahn said, adding that during a difficult time in his life last year, Williams and his wife "were always supportive of me."

Professor Howard Turetsky had taught Caliguiran and Williams accounting in past years and insisted, along with friends of the students, that the two were not involved in any type of romantic relationship. The two worked on accounting projects together, they said.

"They were A-plus students," Turetsky said.

Students from across campus gathered Thursday alongside the media to listen as university spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris identified the victims. There were gasps when she said that both were on the verge of graduating.

"There is a great feeling of sadness on the campus," said Harris, adding that many had sought counseling."

I felt saddened at the death of two classmates... graduating seniors like me who had their whole lives ahead of them. Sad for the parents who were preparing to visit San Jose for graduations and would now visit for funerals. Sad that their lives had to end so violently. I hadn't known either of the victims, though some of my friends did. I felt different on campus.

Worse, I had a sick feeling about the second victim. He had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe he had been getting a ride home, or chatting with his classmate about their final. His name was Thomas Kyle Williams, but his friends called him Kyle. I learned that he had a wife. I read somewhere that her name is Katie. They got married at about the same age we did. He was about to graduate from the College of Business, just like my husband did a year ago. The whole scenario just hit so close to home. I imagined what it would be like to get a call like that or having to sleep alone without the person you had shared everything with. I imagined waking up and being forced to re-write all the plans you had had for the rest of your life. I felt a tiny, insignificant amount of her grief. I felt devastated for her.

The last few days, as I've gone to work and home and to class and to meet with friends, she keeps coming into my mind. I don't know this woman at all, but I've been praying for her. I pray that God gives her peace. That he gives her strength. That he lets her remember all of the joy she had with her husband and allows her to forget all the pain in time.

I pray for all of the victims and their families and friends. I pray for the people who miss them and the people who are wounded by this tragedy. I hope you will too.

I've been holding Jake a little closer and saying "I love you" more. I've been trying not to let my sadness turn to worry or anxiety. I have hope in the Lord and I know that He has a beautiful plan even when the world is cold and ugly.

That's all I can write right now. I needed to get it off my chest, but I can't find a conclusion or summary or closing that seems appropriate. Wherever you are... go live and love.


  1. I was a friend of kyle and yes his wife is katie. Im not katie. But I loved Kyle deeply and he was very important to me and I can reassure you that he loves katie more than anyone can ever love a person. He would not do anything to jepordize their relationship, in fact they haad the fairy tale relationship that EVERYONE WANTED and was JEALOUS about. I miss him so much thank you for writing this

  2. Rachel,
    Thanks for stopping by and for sharing. My thoughts have been with all of you. I think about Katie often and I know it must be so hard to deal with all the rumors people make up to try to make sense of this tragedy. I hope she is staying strong and remembering her husband for the amazing man he was. As I read similarities between her marriage and my own, my heart really goes out to her. I don't know her, but if you see her, please give her a hug for me. All my love and support to you. -Tobi