There was a public memorial today in Tracy for Sandra Cantu, whose short innocent life was snuffed out for absolutely no reason.
Thousands of people attended the service today which was held at one of Tracy’s high schools, West High. The gymnasium was packed, the cafeteria was packed, and the football field bleachers were packed.
According to the Tracy Press, 4,500 people were in attendance. Thousands more watched the Sandra Cantu memorial on TV and online – I was one of them.
Sandra’s mother, Maria Chavez, sat in the front row of the gymnasium looking completely heartbroken and silently crying. On her right was Sandra’s 20-year-old sister Miranda Chavez and on her left was 11-year-old Simone; both girls embraced their mother. Sandra Cantu’s 15-year-old brother Thomas Fortin sat a couple chairs away, wiping away tears with his t-shirt.
Tracy City Councilman Steve Abercrombie was clearly holding back tears as he spoke of Sandra Cantu’s violent end, “I didn’t understand it when I was a police officer. And as a father of four children, I still don’t understand it.”
Cindy Sasser, the principal of Jacobson Elementary School where Sandra was a student, said the whole school will remember Sandra as a friendly, caring, and playful classmate.
Sasser fought back tears as she spoke about how Sandra taught other students how to play on the monkey bars, how Sandra would hang out with the disabled kids at the school, that she had no problem making friends, and how she would always ask Sasser and the other teachers if they needed help.
Sandra Cantu’s Aunt Angie Chavez read aloud a poem she had written in honor of the slain girl, called “Tracy’s Angel.” With great emotion she remembered Sandra’s bright smile, her “sun-kissed hair” and the hugs she gave to her mom before bedtime.
Tracy’s angel, Tracy adopted child, Tracy’s lost girl — that’s how many will remember her, Mayor Brent Ives said;
“We’re left with the haunting image of her skipping down the streets of Tracy. But today she’s skipping down on streets of gold.”