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The 9-year-old boy killed in a mass shooting in California last week “took the bullets” to save his mom’s life, his grieving dad said.
Elementary school pupil Matthew Farias was the youngest of four people shot dead in a Los Angeles suburb last Wednesday — dying in the arms of his mother, Blanca Tamayo, who was critically wounded.
“My angel, he saved his mom from dying,” his father, Rafael “Ralphie” Farias, told USA Today.
“He took the bullets for her,” he said.
Tamayo was the only survivor in the attack at her workplace, mobile-home broker Unified Homes in Orange. Police have yet to reveal a motive and Farias said his family has no links to the suspect.
“I’m so shocked. I’ve never met this person,” Farias told USA Today, crying as he called the suspect an “animal.”
“Innocent people did not deserve to die. I’m here with my pain … He was my only son, my life,” he told the outlet.
The other dead were identified as Unified Homes owner Luis Tovar, 50, his daughter Genevieve Raygoza, 28, and 58-year-old longtime employee Leticia Solis Guzman.
Suspected gunman Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, 44, was wounded in a gun battle with police, with video catching officers dragging him out of the building.
He faces murder and attempted murder charges, with his arraignment adjourned because he remained unconscious and unable to speak since the shooting.
His estranged wife, Aleyda Mendoza, said her “heart is crushed” at his alleged involvement in the bloodbath.
“I don’t have the words to describe the pain and horror that this tragedy has caused me,” she told USA Today in text messages.
“I keep closing my eyes and praying to God this is all just a bad dream and I’ll wake up soon,” wrote Mendoza, who said she had not been in contact with Gaxiola since they were separated about two years ago.
“It hurts me even more knowing my ex-husband was capable of doing such a horrible thing,” she said. “He left behind a sea of pain and grief for so many families who can’t find comfort.”
The California rampage was the third mass shooting in the US in three weeks. Eight people, including six Asian women, were killed in shootings at spas near Atlanta, Georgia, and 10 were murdered at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.
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