SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Ileana Gutiérrez, the mother of the three girls who were allegedly killed by their father at an Arden-Arcade church in February spoke publicly for the first time since their death on Monday.
In a press conference organized by a state senator in front of the State Capitol, Gutiérrez expressed her grief of losing her three daughters, Samantha Gutiérrez, 13; Samia Gutiérrez, 10; Samarah Gutiérrez, 9.
Gutiérrez said a few words in Spanish during the event, which was organized in support of a bill regarding child custody court proceedings.
“Tomorrow will be four months since they died at the fault of a system that doesn’t do its job, a judge that does not take it seriously when someone is mentally ill,” Guiterrez said. “This is something that no one should live through. It is horrible to have to live through this because of negligent people.”
Gutiérrez was one of several mothers present whose children had died at the hands of their fathers. The press conference was in support of SB 616, known as “Piqui’s Law,” introduced by State Sen. Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park).
Gunned down during a supervised visit
The Gutiérrez sisters were allegedly gunned down by their father David Rojas at The Church in Sacramento during a supervised visit.
Nathaniel Kong, 59, known among the church’s congregation as “Brother Nat,” was also killed in the shooting before Rojas turned the gun on himself.
“I don’t understand how this continues to happen, how they do not take stronger actions to protect the children, protect the mother,” Gutiérrez said.
Erika Gonzalez, another mother who lost her children in a domestic violence-related incident, spoke about more protection needed for mothers and children.
Gonzalez’s 23-year-old daughter Yesli Velazquez Gonzalez and 6-year-old son Angel were killed in the Los Angeles area two weeks ago.
The mother also spoke to reporters in Spanish.
“The system is not well, the judges need the training to know when families are going through this,” she said. “My daughter never showed a physical problem, just mental.”
“I cannot speak for the people that commit these crimes because they are not people, they are murders and must pay for what they do,” she continued. “I ask for more support from law enforcement to help families.
What is “Piqui’s Law”?
Senate Bill 616 is named after 5-year-old Aramazd Andressian II, also known as “Piqui,” who was murdered by his father in April 2017. The bill will mandate that judges and others involved in child custody proceedings receive domestic violence training.
If passed, the bill would also draw federal funding from the Violence Against Women Act.
Andressian’s mother Ana Estevez also spoke at the press conference, advocating for changes to the state’s judicial system regarding the protection of children.
“Today I ask every legislator to put themselves in my shoes or the shoes of these surviving parents here for just one moment,” Estevez said. “Imagine what it would be to never hug or kiss your child ever again, to never accompany your son or daughter on the first day of kindergarten, to never hear the words ‘I love you, mama.”
Gutiérrez said that family court services should be better prepared to handle cases like the one she was going through before her estranged husband committed the shooting.
“I would like to see a real law that protects children and mothers. This should not continue to happen. It is something so hard to overcome,” Gutiérrez said.