In an empty lot two blocks away from Downtown Santa Ana’s La Cuatro, dozens of people gathered for a fundraiser to commemorate one of the 1,500 victims of violent crime in Santa Ana in 2019.
Victoria Barrios was only 18 when she was killed in a drive-by shooting, police say she was not the intended victim. Barrios was just walking near Pine Street, a neighborhood South of Downtown Santa Ana.
At entry, participants were greeted by the Barrios family, each wearing a shirt commemorating Victoria in pink letters. They gathered through the exchange of hugs and smiles, telling us just how long they haven’t seen each other.
“Don’t forget Victoria. Don’t forget the Barrios family. Don’t forget Santa Ana” said the Mayor of Santa Ana, Vicente Sarmiento, at Celebrating Victoria Barrios, a special event remembering and celebrating Victoria Barrios’ life.
On Aug 30, 2019, 18-year-old girl Victoria Barrios was killed in a drive-by shooting. To date, the Barrios family continues seeking answers—no one has been convicted or found guilty. Three years later, her mother, Eva continues keeping her memory alive—her spirit has yet ceased.
“My mind is blown with how this turned out. The support from family, friends, community—I’m really, really, grateful,” Eva said. “Yesterday was her 22nd birthday. I always plan to have something special because she just loved that you know, the unity, the family. She loved being at family gatherings.”
Surrounded by family, community leaders, youth performers, politicians and Santa Ana residents, Eva remembered her youngest daughter’s life whilst sharing a story shared by many. Beaming with chatter and emotion, the usually empty lot was packed with lowriders, booths, vendors, a food truck and local residents.
Eva’s first community outreach event took place in the Blue Lot on 119 N. Bush. In the same location muralist, Fernando Olivares painted a mural in Victoria’s memory.
Youth performers from the Folklorico dance group Relampago Del Cielo, Carr Mariachi Los Astros and Santa Ana High School Vocal Group danced and sang in celebration of Victoria’s life and legacy, including Selena Quintanilla impersonator. Eva says the event wouldn’t have been possible without the volunteers and various community members and leaders.
“Eva has been such a vocal, strong advocate for her daughter that from the moment I took office as mayor, she’s reached out to me and she’s done an incredible job in gathering all of us for Victoria’s story,” Sarmiento said. “For us not forgetting who Victoria was, but more importantly, the justice that I think Victoria deserves.”
In her efforts, Eva has reached hundreds through her billboards around the city, pop-up events and collaboration with the Crime Survivors Research Center. Eva aims to connect with the neighbors near the Blue Lot, “Victoria was killed just a few blocks from here. I know they are imperative in helping us share our story and potentially solve it.”
“Let’s not forget, let’s continue to keep her alive in our hearts, in our minds and let’s make sure we continue supporting her mom, Eva and the entire Barrios family.” Sarmiento said.
Pastor Nati Alvarado who previously attended the unveiling of the mural, prayed with the crowd and spoke a few words, both uplifting Eva Barrios and the community. Pastor Nati read a few of Victoria’s words, as suggested by her mother.
“I wanna thank you and grandpa for being the absolute most amazing grandparents I could EVER have…When I’m older I’ll try my best to buy you guys a house by the beach,” Victoria wrote in a letter to her grandparents. “Have an amazing thanksgiving. Your awesome granddaughter, Victoria.”
“She was a dreamer with a heart full of love,” said Pastor Nati.