Hundreds gather to support Greenwood Park Mall shooting victims

INDIANAPOLIS–In a grassy lot on West 30th Street in Indianapolis Saturday, dozens of cars pulled in and people stood in line for Salvadorian food, including coconuts, platanos, pineapple drinks and pupusas, corn delicacies stuffed with beans, cheese and pork.

The food for purchase helped raise funds for the funerals of Pedro Pineda, 56, and his wife, 37-year-old Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, both of whom were killed during a mass shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall on July 17. At least 200 people had already bought food by 11:30 a.m., about a third of the way through the 12-hour event.

Many of those in attendance were from the same city of Cara Sucia, El Salvador, as a large community of people from the town near the Guatemalan border had immigrated to work in Indianapolis. One of those people was Hector Chicon, who met Pedro Pineda in Indianapolis 20 years ago when worked together at a drywall business.

“All the Cara Sucia people are really close to each other. The homeowners from this house are from Cara Sucia and they share this place to help the families,” Chicon said. “(Pedro Pineda) was a good guy and a working guy and he was not getting into any kind of trouble that I know.”

Chicon said he believes better mental health care is needed to prevent future shootings.

Sabrina Lopez, one of about 40 volunteers at the fundraiser, said she had known Pedro and Rosa Pineda her whole life, and she was pleased with the outpouring of support she saw Saturday.

“It’s overwhelming in a positive way, a lot is going on and it’s so good, the community coming together after such a horrible and tragic thing,” Lopez said. “They were positive influences in our Hispanic community. They were hardworking people, immigrants who came here like everyone else, for an American dream they accomplished. They were hard workers, positive, super helpful and ready to give. That’s who they were.”

Eduardo Lopez, of Indianapolis, came out to support the families because he knows what it’s like when gun violence hits too close to home.

“The situation is very dangerous because you never know. Sometimes you could be having a good time with your family and you don’t know what’s going to happen next,” Lopez said. “A particular someone shot me a long time ago. He just shot me. I was driving and he shot me and he ran; I was scared for my life. I wanted to support the community because it’s very dangerous how we live in this time. I’m always scared for my family. I don’t want them to be alone. My wife will tell me ‘I need to go to the store or Walmart’ and I go with her because you never know.”

News of the fundraiser brought people from all cultures and even out-of-state visitors who were touched by the news.

Anthony Guldner, and his wife, Brenda, who live on the Southside, heard about the fundraiser through social media and news posts.

“The reaction to what we saw on Sunday was absolute horror because it was so close to home,” Guldner said. “We wanted to come out today because we feel like when you can help someone in need, that’s our responsibility to do that.”

Buffy Anderson, of Killeen, Texas, stopped by the fundraiser as she was visiting family in Indianapolis.

Killeen is near Fort Hood, Texas, and Anderson lived there during the 2009 and 2014 Fort Hood mass shootings, she said.

“This really hits home. I was in Fort Hood when there was a (mass) shooting both times. This is amazing, it’s a great turnout, everyone is here to participate and help and it shows the love Hoosiers have for the community,” Anderson said. “I hope to see change because no one should be carrying a rifle of that magnitude. I was a soldier and that’s a wartime weapon, and I believe in guns.”