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'Humble' and 'Joyous': Berkeley High Community Mourns Teenage Brothers Killed in Weekend House Party Shooting

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two young Latina women with their arms around each other at a vigil
Samantha Rodriguez (left), 15, and Abby Arcos, 14, both students at Berkeley High School, stand together during a vigil at Berkeley's Longfellow Middle School for brothers Angel and Jazy Sotelo Garcia, two Berkeley High School students who were killed in a shooting over the weekend. (Marlena Sloss/KQED)

As the oldest brother in a family of six kids and a single mom, Jazy Sotelo Garcia, 17, naturally assumed the role of protector and caregiver, according to his cousin Melani Garcia.

"He was always kind of checking in on people, making sure everybody had their needs met," Garcia told KQED.

His brother Angel, 15, was more of a social butterfly. He was "very comedic and joyous," Garcia said. "If he noticed something was up with you, his first instinct would be to just make you laugh and smile."

Garcia and the rest of her family are in shock after both brothers were killed in a shooting Saturday night in North Oakland. Two other people were wounded in the shooting, police said Monday.

a photo of two Latino teenage boys standing outside
Brothers Jazy Sotelo Garcia (left), 17, and Angel Sotelo Garcia, 15, were killed in a shooting Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at a house party in Oakland. Friends and family remembered the Berkeley High students as loving, community-minded boys with lots of friends. (Erika Galavis, GoFundMe site)

The shooting occurred shortly before 10 p.m. in the 900 block of Apgar Street near Emeryville. Officers who went to the location found multiple gunshot victims, according to police. Officers tried to save the boys' lives, but they died at the scene, police said.

A third victim located by Oakland police was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition, according to police. Emeryville police located a fourth victim, who also is in stable condition at a hospital, Oakland police said.

According to Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong on Monday, the shooting was not gang-related and appeared to be tied to a previous conflict that happened at Berkeley High School.

“We do believe that three individuals came in a vehicle, entered the home, two of which began to fire rounds,” said Armstrong, adding that both handguns and rifles were used in the shooting.

On Monday evening, a crowd of more than 200 people gathered at Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley for a vigil in honor of the brothers. Among them were Jazy and Angel's four younger siblings — including 13-year-old Josue, now the eldest — and their mother, Maria Garcia, who spoke about always keeping an open door for her kids' friends.

a group of people gathered in a room for a memorial
People listen to speakers during a vigil for Angel and Jazy Sotelo Garcia, the two Berkeley High School students killed in a shooting over the weekend in Oakland’s Longfellow neighborhood, at Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. Over 200 people attended the vigil. (Marlena Sloss/KQED)

Abby Arcos, 14, a student at Berkeley High School, also was among the attendees. “I just know [the brothers] as being a part of my community at Berkeley High, and close to many of my friends,” Arcos said. “I feel very heartbroken for the family and I just hope they heal.”

Cheryl Wilson, formerly the principal at Sylvia Mendez Elementary School (previously Le Conte), which both brothers attended, led the boys' friends and classmates in a vow to their deceased friends. “I promise myself,” Wilson had them repeat, “that if I loved them, that if I cared about them, I will help their dreams come true by living the best life I can ... I will not let the loss of their lives be in vain."

Many of those gathered were extended family members.

"We're a huge family. We're Mexican. Our culture is really big on big families and tight-knit communities, and our parents made sure to instill that in us during our childhood, which is why we're really close," said cousin Garcia, describing camping trips and Disneyland excursions with her cousins. "It's really disheartening to know that we grew up together, but we're not going to be able to grow old together."

a bouquet of red and yellow flowers and card depicting two young Latino boys as angels
An attendee holds flowers and wears a piece of art depicting Angel and Jazy Sotelo Garcia as angels during a vigil for the two Berkeley High School students who were killed in a shooting at a house party over the weekend in Oakland. (Marlena Sloss/KQED)

A letter from Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel on Monday called for compassion and support.

"We are a district community in grief," read the statement. "We’ve lost two beautiful Berkeley High School (BHS) students this weekend to a senseless act of gun violence. Berkeley is a small and tightly-knit community. A tragedy like this affects all of us, and it will also take all of us together, supporting one another, being kind to one another, listening to one another, and being compassionate to get through."

A GoFundMe page for the family, which had raised more than $96,000 by Tuesday morning, aims to help the boys' mother pay for funeral and other expenses.

Melani Garcia said she has no doubts that her cousins were innocent bystanders hit by stray bullets. "I've seen some narratives pushed around that they were affiliated with a gang ... or that they were asking for it by going to a house party in Oakland," she said. "And I really want to clear that up. They never went into any kind of trouble. They were just all-around really well-rounded kids. Humble and sweet and community- and family-oriented.

"I just ask people to be mindful that these were kids," she said.

This story includes reporting from Bay City News, The Associated Press and KQED's Sara Hossaini, Emma Silvers and Marlena Sloss.

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