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San Antonio Gathers At Vigil To Remember Victims Of River Walk Bar Shooting

Dozens of people turned out Wednesday night for a vigil at Ventura, a bar and music venue where two people were shot and killed and five others wounded on Sunday.

Robert Martinez III, 20, and Alejandro “Alex” Robles, 25, were both killed. 

“I didn’t change my life just to bury my son,” Mary Contreras ⁠⁠— Martinez’s mother ⁠⁠— cried shortly after she entered the building. 

Martinez’s step father Carlos Contreras, and younger brother Ernest ⁠Contreras — who was shot in the leg on Sunday ⁠⁠— also attended. 

Ernest ⁠Contreras was shot in the leg at Ventura on Jan. 19. In the same shooting, his brother Robert Martinez III died.
Credit Bri Kirkham | Texas Public Radio
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Ernest ⁠Contreras was shot in the leg at Ventura on Jan. 19. In the same shooting, his brother Robert Martinez III died.

Martinez was one of the artists scheduled to perform at the concert.  Martinez’s aunt, Irene Avine, said he planned to use his payout from the show to buy his mother dinner. 

“He was such a good kid,” Avine said. “He texted my sister that he was going to take her to eat Friday ⁠⁠— this Friday ⁠⁠— with the money that he was going to make rapping.”

Martinez’s mother shared memories of her son with a crowd outside Ventura.

“He had a big heart. He loved everybody,” Contreras said. “He didn’t care if anybody did him wrong ⁠— talked about him wrong. He still loved you. He forgave everyone.”

Avine described his mother as heartbroken. 

“She’s got a damaged heart right now,” Avine said. “This is so painful and hard. I can’t even explain to you how much we’re hurting.”

Kiernan Christopher Williams ⁠— the suspected gunman ⁠— was arrested Monday afternoon. He used his perp walk to promote his Instagram handle and stage name, 32 Baby K9. Since then, his Instagram account has gained more than 8,000 new followers. His girlfriend has posted to the account several times, and said his music will be added to streaming platforms soon. 

Mary Contreras said that Williams has not shown remorse.

According to people who witnessed the shooting, Williams and Martinez bumped into each other and exchanged words. Martinez’s family said the shooting started suddenly, without warning. 

On Monday, Williams told reporters he acted in self defense after being threatened. 

“We’re very hurt about this,” Avine said. “And our hearts are shattered because of this other guy that didn’t care about life or something. He just comes in and just shoots the innocent people.”

At the vigil, Martinez’s mother said she hopes Williams isn’t released from custody. 

“It breaks my heart, but as far as forgiving? I mean, that’s what we’re here to do, right? To forgive,” Contreras said. “But I won’t forget, and I feel like he does not deserve to get out and be free. He deserves whatever punishment that they give him. He doesn’t belong out here.”

Jimmy Robles (no relation to Alex Robles) is a pastor with Last Chance Ministries. He spoke at the vigil. 

Pastor Jimmy Robles gifts baseball bats to families after they lose a loved one as a reminder to keep fighting.
Credit Bri Kirkham | Texas Public Radio.
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Pastor Jimmy Robles gifts baseball bats to families after they lose a loved one as a reminder to keep fighting.

He gave Martinez’s family a “Victorious Bat” ⁠⁠— a baseball bat named for his daughter, Victoria, who passed away in an accident three years ago. 

“I always say I could have died with her or I can live for her, and I decided to get up and fight back,” Robles said. “In life, you will get hit, but you got to continue to fight back, and that’s one of the reasons I give family members the bat ⁠⁠— to remind them that, you know, you got to continue to fight back.”

Robles hoped people keep Williams’ family in their thoughts. 

“He’s also somebody’s son, you know,” Robles said. “So we pray for that family as well.”

Dominic Anthony can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Instagram at @Dominic_Anthony_Walsh.